Monday, August 29, 2011

MN State Fair: 4-H State Ambassadors

I mentioned a while back that I would eventually touch on my experience as a Minnesota State 4-H Ambassador. At the moment, the Minnesota State Fair is going on and I can't be there until this Saturday. I love the state fair and it was the always the highlight of my summer, so I miss it terribly right now though I've graduated from 4-H. When I was an ambassador, I wrote an essay titled "Living at the 4-H Hilton" about being a 4-h state ambassador at the state fair and I'm posting an abridged version of it here:



Since one of my former camp counselors became as Minnesota State 4-H Ambassador and loved it, I made it a personal goal to eventually become one, just like her. Within in a month of completing my interview for the prestigious role in May, I was notified that I was one of 23 youth selected from across the state to represent Minnesota 4-H at its best for one year. Upon completing a 4-day orientation in July, I was now considered an official state ambassador, or state ambie as many people like to call us. Attending the Minnesota State Fair was our first role as ambies and thus the 4-H Hilton became my home for 2 weeks prior to the start of my senior year of high school.




Over the many years that 4-Hers have spent in the 4-H Building since it was first built in 1939, it has somehow earned the nickname “The 4-H Hilton”. The first floor is the only part of the 4-H Building that the average fair-goer sees. Down there is where all the action is: the stage performances, karaoke, Lego robotics, conference judging, fashion review shows, demonstrations, and even a flight simulator. The second floor consists of a large cafeteria area where “Caf Staff” serves us 3 delicious meals a day. Separate stairways lead to the third floor boy’s and girl’s dorms. Each dorm houses roughly 500 people in row upon row of bunk beds.




One of my favorite parts of the state fair was a livestock exhibitor was the livestock dance. As state ambies, our job was to make sure that every kid there was having fun, causing us to have to mingle with everybody there. It was a general rule to only dance with one group of people for one song at the most, if that even. For slow dances, we were supposed to try to ask any random person to dance with us, or form a circle group of some of the wallflowers who didn’t want to slow dance. Besides the other “general rules”, we were supposed to try to avoid clumping, or having more than one ambie in a group at a time. Every encampment had its own dance with resulted in a dance every other day once the non-livestock encampments started.




Every day of the state fair, my schedule involved door greeting and working at the 4-H information booth for at least two hours. Door greeting involved a lot of being smiley and saying “Hi, Welcome to the 4-H Building” for an hour straight, then we switched and worked at the info booth for the next hour of our two-hour shift. We had a map of Minnesota behind the info booth for people to mark where they are or were in 4-H with a pin, they was even a national map for out of state members. It was so interesting to listen to some of the stories people told of when they used to be in 4-H. Several of our other jobs included watching the technology area, assisting with exhibitor orientation, working at Little Farm Hands, painting faces on the outdoor stage, and working as judge’s assistants.




One ambie tradition is to have a competition against the artsies, in past years it was a hockey game. This year however, we weren’t able to play hockey so we decided to play human foosball on the fairgrounds instead. They had the human foosball set up at a news station booth and we were allowed to use it for our competition. August 30th Staff Night Out for the ambies, artsies, exhibits staff, dorm staff, and special activities staff, was held in Blaine. I worked at the All You Can Drink Milk Stand that night and I ended up missing the bus over to Staff Night Out. One of the other ambies waited for me and we managed to get a ride there with one of the exhibits staff who was driving over there anyways.




Even just getting to know the other state ambassadors better was a great experience, although there was still drama at times. I learned a lot at the 4-H Hilton in Falcon Heights, MN, largely because of my state ambassador role. Simply door greeting showed me just how much diversity existed even in Minnesota, something I was only mildly aware of previously. One of my highlights of the state fair was hearing someone say that he and his wife met through 4-H because they showed cattle against each other. I love seeing how 4-H brings people together, especially since I’ve gotten to know so many people from it and the state fair is one of the things that strengthens those friendships. This year they were selling t-shirts with a picture of the 4-H Hilton and the saying, “I survived the 4-H Hilton”, that were selling fast. I managed to get a hold of one and I believe it just about sums up my state fair experience this year.




The essay was long, but I trimmed it down a bit. The MN State Fair was just part of my state ambassador experience, but it was a great part. I met many great friends while I was an ambassador, and my boyfriend was a state ambassador with me as well, though we had started dating before then. 


For the rest of the week, until I can go to the state fair myself this weekend, I will be posting about other aspects of my years at the state fair as time allows. 




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