Hey y’all, my name is Jessica Cowan and I am the new 4-H Program Assistant for Youth Livestock and Agriculture. I am the coordinator for the Texas 4-H Youth Livestock and Agriculture website and social media and provide support to the Texas 4-H Equine and Livestock Ambassador Programs. I am super excited to be able to contribute to an organization that, next to my family, has had the largest hand in shaping who I am today. But saying that implies that 4-H and my family are separate when really they are fairly synonymous. I started going to 4-H meetings when I was six months old, but my 4-H story really starts earlier than that when my grandfather and his brother, 10 and 12 respectively, started one of the first Iowa 4-H clubs in 1926. He later became a county extension agent and my grandma became an adult leader. My mom won the Gold Star Award and is an adult leader and the same with both of my older sisters. So to say that 4-H was just a hobby would a vast understatement. I lived and breathed 4-H. And since I am now working for 4-H, I suppose I still do.
As far as having an agriculture background, my family has never gotten out of either farming or ranching, going back to the settlement of America back in the 1600s. The home ranch where my parents live has been in the family for 4 generations, including mine. I have been blessed to live and grow up on land that has been ranched for generations and will continue to be ranched for generations to come. Growing up on ranches has allowed me to see things differently. Even though most people don’t realize it, agriculture impacts us every single day, from the food we eat to the clothes we wear to the paper we write on. I love being a part of something that is so influential and I hope that no matter where I end up, agriculture will always be a part of my life.
4-H has been so instrumental in expanding my boundaries and encouraging me to step outside my comfort zone. It has also increased my knowledge of the agricultural industry. The Equine Ambassador Program was an amazing experience where I was able to get a glimpse of all aspects of the horse industry. Through the program I got the opportunity to testify at a Texas Senate Committee hearing. It was so fascinating to learn more about our government as well as to get more experience in presenting a controversial idea in a way that expressed my thoughts in a logical, concise way. It is so important in this day and age of social media to be able to articulate your thoughts in a way that gets the point across and 4-H has had a major impact on how I communicate. As much as I hate to admit it, record books were a great learning experience and resource (I know mothers reading this who have been trying impart their vast wisdom on their stubborn children will appreciate that–my mother might just take that sentence and frame it). I have gotten so many opportunities to make a difference and 4-H gave me the courage to take them.
Thanks to 4-H I have the opportunity to work with this program and the amazing people associated with it. I am excited to see where this will lead. 4-H has helped make me who I am and I am honored to be working with such a monumental program that impacts the youth of today to be leaders tomorrow.http://texasyouthlivestock.com/ E-mail: Jessica.Cowan@ag.tamu.edu E-mail: email@example.com