For Lynne Wahlstrom, her passion for 4-H has led to her dream job, educating 4-H youth.
“It really changed my life in the 10 years I was a Chautauqua County 4-H member,” Wahlstrom said. “4-H gave me a place to fit in with other youth with shared passions. I knew I wanted to give youth the same opportunities I had.”
The 2007 Falconer Central School graduate attended Jamestown Community College and went on to earn a Bachelor of Science degree in biology, as well as, a Master of Arts degree in teaching.
In 2014, Wahlstrom was hired as the 4-H Youth Development Educator with Purdue Extension in DeKalb County, Indiana.
Since then, Wahlstrom has worked with over 600 youth developing their leadership skills and working with them toward various club, and personal, goals.
“Working with youth, there are always memorable moments,” Wahlstrom said. “Most of them are happy moments, the moment that youth who worked really hard on their project earns a blue ribbon, the smiles on their faces when I come into their classroom to make robotic honey bees, and the absolute joy when a 4-H Camper reunites with friends.”
Although it doesn’t come without hard-work and dedication.
“(It’s) a lot of odd hours-night meetings, weekends, travel- but it is worth the work to have the opportunity to develop (these kids) into the leaders of tomorrow.” Wahlstrom said.
When it comes to offering advice to students, whether current 4-H members or not, Wahlstrom is wants students to make sure the fit is right for them, whether it is a traditional four-year university, or not.
“Consider trade schools or apprenticeships,” Wahlstrom said. “Many of the trades are dying out and there is a growing market for individuals interested in learning them. Many employers will even pay for the trade school education, so you have a guaranteed job at the end (of your education.”
She also stresses the importance of not overlooking what is already here.
“Don’t rule out JCC because it’s in our backyard,” she said. “I was able to complete all my core classes there before moving to Fredonia for my more specialized classes after I was sure I knew what field I wanted to go into.”
Regardless of what path students are drawn to take, Wahlstrom believes loving what you do will make the difference.
“My current profession came out of my love for the 4-H program,” Wahlstrom said. “I couldn’t have chosen a more rewarding career.”
This feature is part of a series focusing on residents who have received scholarships from the Chautauqua Region Community Foundation. If you, or someone you know, received a scholarship from the Community Foundation and would like to be featured, contact Sarah Shelters at 661-3390 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Community Foundation is now accepting scholarship applications for the 2018-19 academic year. To qualify, students must have graduated from a Chautauqua County, or Randolph, high school. Scholarships are offered to undergraduate and graduate students studying a variety of subjects and vocations at two-year or four-year colleges or universities.
Click here to apply for this year’s scholarship process. The deadline for applications is July 2.