Dream big and achieve
By Annette Tait
In the true spirit of 4-H, the North Dakota 4-H Foundation dreamed big and then moved forward to achieve those dreams. The goal was to create a year-round, fully accessible facility to serve a greater number youth, and to also provide a center for training, conferences, and other gatherings and events.
The dream of the Johnsrud 4-H Education Center was realized last week with a ribbon-cutting ceremony celebrating the building’s completion. A standing room only crowd of more than 100 people smiled and nodded their heads in agreement as a series of dignitaries led by Myron Johnsrud spoke of the importance of 4-H experiences to leadership, communication, and other essential life skills.
Johnsrud, who served as NDSU Extension Service director from 1974 to 1986, noted that the Extension Service was already working to get a 4-H camp started in the western part of the state at the time he began working with the organization.
“We are very lucky to have this property – 84 acres along the river in a nationally known historic area,” he said, explaining how the camp was originally financed by donations and the collaborative efforts of many supporters.
“That’s how this whole thing started.”
Johnsrud noted the interconnection of volunteerism and leadership, stating that both were critical to the inception and evolution of the 4-H Camp. Originally one of two 4-H camps, the camp is now the single central location serving the entire state.
“It’s great for communities and individuals,” Johnsrud said, referring to the education, skills, and leadership opportunities the 4-H program offers, and specifically the experiences provided by the camp. “This is the way to step up to the plate and make things even better.”
Examples of Johnsrud’s remarks about the benefits of 4-H were borne out by representatives for Governor Jack Dalrymple, Senator John Hoeven, Senator Heidi Heitkamp, and Representative Kevin Cramer, who offered personal experiences and observations before reading congratulatory letters from their respective officials.
“I could go on all day about how 4-H impacted my life,” said Kayla Effertz, senior policy advisor to Governor Dalrymple and a second-generation 4-H member whose children also participate in the program. Her sentiments were echoed by all who spoke; the theme continued after the ceremony in the many conversations between attendees touring the new facility.
Construction of the Johnsrud Center was part of a $2.35 million renovation project major upgrades to the three cabins and the dining hall, and expanding outdoor camp
opportunities. The state Legislature provided $950,000 of the funding through the Extension Service’s 2013-15 budget. The remainder came from donations from individuals, organizations and corporations.