"My 4-H projects increased my interest in science & math, especially as these subjects pertained to the farm. It led me to my education in Engineering."
B.S.'01 Mechanical Engineering, University of Illinois; M.E. '03 Human Resources Education, University of Illinois
Owner/Founder/Brewmaster, Engrained Brewery & Restaurant, Springfield, IL
Favorite 4-H Projects: Livestock (Dairy), Woodworking, Small Engines, Cooking
How did 4-H contribute to your leadership skills today?
I benefited from experiences with public speaking, time management, and most of all problem solving skills. My 4-H projects challenged me to troubleshoot and apply critical thinking.
Did 4-H instill a career path for you?
My 4-H projects increased my interest in science & math, especially as these subjects pertained to the farm. It led me to my education in Engineering and starting my career at Caterpillar, working in product development. Ultimately I missed my connection to the farm and decided to start a farm to table restaurant where STEM and agriculture came together.
What advice do you have for someone who is interested in your career path?
Self employment is challenging. Don't be as naive as I was, get some experience in the area you think you want to make a career out of before you jump in head first. Learn where you excel and what you are naturally good at. Surround yourself with other people who are good in the areas you are not. Invest 100% of your time and energy mastering what you are good at and 0% working on the areas you don't enjoy or excel in - there are other people who love those areas!
What advice would you give a current 4-H member?
Take as many 4-H projects and try as many things as possible. It is a great way to figure out what you like and don't like. I learned that I loved small engines and woodworking, but that cross stitch wasn't for me! Make sure you see the project through to the end!
Why should young people join 4-H today?
There are so many more opportunities and projects that are offered today. 4-H is for everyone, you don't have to grow up on or around a farm. The opportunities to learn about technology for one is exciting for a guy like me!