4-H’er and athlete: Erin Lee


The past two summers, The Tribune profiled local high school athletes who entered 4-H projects for the Jackson County Fair.

The 2020 fair was scheduled for this week, but it was canceled because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

We still wanted to highlight the efforts that local student-athletes put into their 4-H projects, which were entered virtually this year.

Name: Erin Lee

School: Austin High School

Grade: 11

Sports: Volleyball, soccer, basketball, track and field, softball

Other school activities: Best Buddies (vice president), student council (Class of 2022 president), National Honor Society, Sunshine Society, World Language Club

Number of years involved in 4-H: 8

4-H club: Cloverleaf

4-H projects this year: All other crafts, boer goats, Junior Leaders

How do you balance your sports and 4-H responsibilities?

By participating in both athletics and 4–H, I have learned a great deal about time management. Throughout the week, I know I have practice for various sports right after school until 6 p.m., followed by 4-H activities later in the evening or on the weekends. Time management has allowed me to schedule out time to make sure I am able to complete responsibilities for both athletics and 4-H as well as academics and family events.

What is your typical schedule like during the summer when it comes to 4-H and sports? What is an average day like?

Currently, I am a five-sport high school athlete, 4-H member and Junior Leader, so my schedule throughout the summer is super busy. Typically, I have practice for sports in the morning throughout the week. In an attempt to complete all of my responsibilities, I stop by the barn on the way to practice every morning to check on the livestock. After practice, I either attend a 4-H or Junior Leaders meeting or I start working on 4-H projects before I scurry over to the barn to check on my animals again. Although my day-to-day schedule is busy, I really enjoy being able to participate in all of the activities I love.

Why are you involved in both 4-H and athletics?

I have always had a passion for both 4-H and athletics because they have always consumed a major part of my life. By participating in both athletics and 4-H, I have learned a tremendous amount of knowledge that has translated into my everyday life, such as work ethic, time management, responsibility, effective communication and community engagement. In addition, I have learned how to be both an effective leader and teammate as well as a loyal friend. I am forever thankful for the privilege to be part of such amazing programs that have shaped me into the individual I am and could not imagine life without them. Through what I have gained by participating in these programs, I hope I am able to make a difference in others’ lives just as 4-H and athletics have made in mine.

What is something you’ve learned from 4-H that translates to your sports or vice versa?

One key concept both 4-H and athletics have taught me is to be better. Through both programs, I have had the opportunity to hold leadership positions that have taught me the importance of qualities leaders possess. Those qualities may include being responsible, honest, understanding, fair, motivational and always have a listening ear. These are the qualities I believe should be evident in an effective leader for everyday life, and I am proud to say I have acquired these qualities through my participation in athletics and 4-H. In addition, I believe that through a positive mindset and teamwork, anything can be accomplished if everyone is able to devote 100% effort. Always be willing to better yourself and do the best you can, and you will be able to live by the 4-H open motto and “make the better best.”

Why would you encourage someone in 4-H to also participate in athletics?

I believe 4-H and athletics are closely related in regards to how many leadership qualities individuals are able to acquire as well as learning about important life lessons. Through my 4-H experience, I gain the sense of accomplishment, determination and work ethic, all principles that are further developed through athletics. 4-H has equipped me with the knowledge necessary to be the best teammate and leader I can be. I have determination to better myself and possess an optimistic mindset to develop my passion for engaging others toward success in a common goal, which are all common themes present in the four H’s: Head (being knowledgeable), heart (being dedicated), hands (being of service to others) and health (being active). In addition, by participating in both programs, I know I have gained more confidence than my counterparts because I am aware of how knowledgeable, hardworking and persistent I have become as a result of my participation in both programs.

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