BROOKINGS, S.D. — Whether leading a calf around the showring or giving an illustrated talk, when Spencer Gosch competed in 4-H he knew where he stood.
“No matter what that project was – it could have been a market steer, photography, banana bread or a talk on bicycle safety – when I competed in 4-H, I either received a purple ribbon or I didn’t,” explains the District 23 Representative. “Through 4-H, my father taught me that I was never so good I couldn’t get better and never so bad I couldn’t get worse.”
Gosch says involvement in 4-H instilled a drive to better himself and continuously work to improve. It’s a mindset he carries into every aspect of his full life.
Along with public service, the 34-year-old is a fourth-generation farmer/rancher, an insurance agent, a sports broadcaster for the Dakota Radio Group and owns a traveling DJ business, Nighthawk Entertainment. He and his wife, Ashley, have three young children.
Growing up, Gosch says 4-H was a family tradition for him and his four siblings. Showing cattle was their project of choice.
“But, my mom always made us branch out and do other things, like illustrated talks,” he says of the 4-H project area where members put public speaking skills into practice. “It was a welcoming challenge for me to get up and speak in front of people.”
Looking back on the experience, Gosch says as a South Dakota Legislator he puts what he learned through 4-H illustrated talks into action each time he speaks on the House floor.
“When I open my mouth in the Legislature, I am speaking, potentially, in front of hundreds of thousands. And, what I say is going on the record,” he says. “4-H taught me how to speak in a way where I get my point across without droning on.”
Gosch sees this same talent among today’s 4-H members. “As a sports broadcaster, I can tell who has some sort of background in 4-H, or like programs, when I conduct interviews with these young individuals. When asked, I am shocked how many kids confirm that assumption.”
4-H also expanded his circle of friends beyond the rural community of Selby. “When you are in 4-H, your world opens up. 4-H provides rural youth, like me, with so many opportunities to travel and meet kids from all over,” he says. “Today, I have lifelong friends, who I met through 4-H, from towns that I now represent as a Legislator. Lifelong friends who returned home and are now trying to do the right thing for their community. It is an honor to represent these people today in Pierre.”
A responsibility he takes seriously. “Like I said, in 4-H I learned that I can always do more and it’s our duty to help others.”
More about South Dakota 4-H
SDSU Extension’s 4-H Youth Development Program is a partnership of federal (USDA), state (Land Grant University), and county resources through youth outreach activities of SDSU Extension. Youth learn and experience Leadership, Health and Wellness, Science and Ag-Vocacy through a network of professional staff and volunteers reaching more than 9,000 enrolled members with yearly programming efforts to an additional 35,000 youth participants.
To learn more, contact your local SDSU Extension 4-H Youth Program Advisor. A complete listing can be found at www.iGrow.org under Field Staff icon.
— Lura Roti, for SDSU Extension
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