Jennifer Sirangelo, President and CEO of the National 4-H Foundation

Rising Up As a Woman Leader

Jennifer Sirangelo is an accomplished leader in the non-profit space.  Listen in to the discussion on the podcast to learn about her rise as a woman leader.  She shares some of the important steps that helped her grow along the way, and about the bright future she sees ahead of all of us. 

Becoming a Female CEO

Jennifer shares that a key to growing professionally is making sure you know who you are and what you are passionate about. Find things you’re passionate about and pursue them.

Know that you will have uncomfortable moments when taking on a task you don’t know how to do. Give yourself permission to make mistakes as you figure it out and grow.

Find mentors to help you grow and remember that you will be defined more by what you say “no” to than what you say “yes” to.

Listen to the Podcast with Jennifer Sirangelo as she shares all of these tips and more.

4-H Helps Kids Grow

Jennifer is passionately working through 4-H to help youth develop the full use of their head, heart, hands and health. 4-H focuses on helping youth live a healthy lifestyle, encourages civic engagement and creates experiential learning experiences that are critical to growth.

She has risen to serve as the CEO of a national organization that serves 6 million young people!

Youth development is what lights her fire. Helping youth learn critical thinking and developing life skills to allow them to adapt to the changing environment they are going to encounter is how she’s changing the world.

Jennifer is excited to see young people learn, grow, and forge their own path through an organization that’s 100 years old, but as relevant today as ever.

Young MARJI GUYLER-ALANIZ with barn kittens

Here I am with one of my favorite things growing up…barn kitties! 

My Experience with 4-H

I can still picture the green cover on my 4-H book.  Inside were pages that represented hours of learning, sometimes frustration, excitement, and progress.  

That green cover protected sheets of paper that were carefully torn out of a notebook and then covered with the stories of my projects.  They were the stories of the presentations, projects, animals and things we learned about as a 4-H group.  

Some pages held photographs that I had taken on my little pink 110 film camera.  Photographs and stories that were an important building block to the rest of my life.  

Though I didn’t know it then, those early years spent in 4-H were some pretty great ones.  They were years that I got to know kids outside of my school and regular social circles.  They were years where I learned to not only take pictures, make a presentation, show a cat (yes, a cat), sew and bake, but also how to tell a story about all I had done and learned through those projects.  They were the years I spent in 4-H. 

Vintage combine on MARJI GUYLER-ALANIZ's family farm

My grandpa and aunt riding on the combine back at the farm where my mom grew up.

4-H Is A Family Tradition

My mom grew up on a working farm and 4-H had been a big part of her youth too, so that is why she pushed us to join.  While we lived in the country, my parents didn’t farm so I wasn’t real sure where I would fit in.  

We joined a group that was primarily based in town.  Some of the kids had horses, but for the most part they weren’t all “farm kids.”  

I found all sorts of projects that I could throw myself into.  My learned love of storytelling and photography obviously didn’t stop with 4-H.  It’s how I make a living still today through FarmHer! 

Meeting A True 4-H Leader

Imagine my surprise when I was at a Nationwide event during the American Farm Bureau Convention (see the video of that trip here) this past winter and by chance I ended up in a group of people that included Jennifer Sirangelo, the President and CEO of the National 4-H Council.  

The person who introduced us started telling her about FarmHer and me as I stood off to the side (slightly in awe of the woman who leads one of the largest and most significant youth organizations in our country) eagerly waiting to start talking to her.  

Jennifer listened to his introduction and then said “YES, I’ve heard of her (me)…I’ve heard she’s a 4-H alum!”  At that point my excitement bubbled over.  I may have done a little jump, telling her that the HER she referenced was actually ME!  

We got to talking about 4-H and how I see the importance of it throughout my travels.  Before parting for the night we decided to connect again, this time over a podcast discussion.  

I was actually set to head out to D.C. for that podcast during National Ag Week but the Coronavirus had other plans.  So, we did what we all have done and we pivoted to a distanced discussion. 

Everybody Eats

Find More Stories at Everybody Eats

We all eat, and that is why farming will always matter.  Everybody Eats is where the stories of food and farming intersect.  

These stories told through my FarmHer lens connect us to our food and more importantly, the people behind it.  

Everybody Eats is a collection of stories of those who protect our rural communities, who grow our food with extraordinary care, and who provide support, education, and assistance to make sure Everybody Eats. 

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