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Tuesday, December 6, 2022

New extension educator aims to bring new programming to 4-H – Southernminn.com

4-H Youth Development Extension Educator Michelle Wicks hopes to bring programs like LEGO Robotics and Sport Shooting and Wildlife to Nicollet County 4-H. (Carson Hughes/southernminn.com)

4-H Youth Development Extension Educator Michelle Wicks hopes to bring programs like LEGO Robotics and Sport Shooting and Wildlife to Nicollet County 4-H. (Carson Hughes/southernminn.com)
Michelle Wicks has been a 4-Her since childhood, and in her new position as Nicollet County 4-H Youth Development Extension Educator, she hopes to bring the same programs and opportunities she enjoyed to local kids.
From sixth grade through graduation, Wicks was heavily involved in her home 4-H program in Pierce County, Wisconsin. She was named a 4-H ambassador while in the program, was an avid participant in 4-H shooting sports and competed in dog obedience shows at the county fair.
Her passion for 4-H didn’t stop in high school. Wicks continued to volunteer for 4-H in Oshkosh, Wisconsin while attending college. She later became nationally in 4-H Shooting Sports and was a member of the state shooting training team for three years before moving to Minnesota with her husband, Steve.
For 15 years, Wicks engaged with youth as a high school and middle school English teacher. She taught in Rochester and Plymouth, Minnesota before pursuing a full-time career devoted to 4-H. She was an interim 4-H educator in Scott County starting in May 2022, before taking on her current position with Nicollet County last month.
“I wanted to give youth in Nicollet County, or try to give the youth in Nicollet County, the same experience that I had in 4-H and the availability of programs and the development of leadership opportunities,” said Wicks.
As the Youth Development Extension Educator, Wicks is responsible for bringing new recreational opportunities to Nicollet County 4-H clubs and she has several ideas including a LEGO Robotics program and a Shooting Sports and Wildlife program.
These pursuits won’t happen overnight, said Wicks, it may be around three to five years before these programs get off the ground. The first steps involve youth outreach to ensure kids in the area would be interested in LEGO robotics and shooting sports, but Wicks has reason to believe Nicollet County Youth want these activities.
“It seems like the youth in Nicollet County want those kinds of programs,” said Wicks. “When I bring it up their eyes kind of get big and they think ‘Oh yeah, that would be really cool.”
In her day-to-day, Wicks works with 4-H club leaders and community volunteers in planning 4-H programs, meetings and upcoming events. Of course, Wicks also stays busy preparing for the Nicollet County Fair where youth exhibit animals, vegetables and horticulture, arts and crafts, photography, sewing and textiles and more.
When she’s not working, Wicks enjoys traveling and visiting sushi restaurants with her husband.
In the long run, Wicks aims to grow the Nicollet County 4-H program through partnerships with businesses, community organizations and volunteers and local government departments.
“My goal is to have 4-H interwoven in the community as part of it and not as something separate that kids have an option to do, but for the youth that it’s a part of life,” Wicks said.
Reach Reporter Carson Hughes at 507-931-8575. ©Copyright 2022 APG Media of Southern Minnesota. All Rights Reserved.
4-H Clubs in the Nicollet County area are welcoming new members for the 2022-2023 season. To enroll, visit v2.4honline.com.
There are several clubs which regularly meet in the St. Peter area including the Sprouts 4-H Club for Cloverbuds grades K-2, the Oshawa Achievers  Riverbend Riders and Saints Overtime. 
Not sure which club to join? Visit the Nicollet County Extension website for more information or contact Nicollet County 4-H at 507-934-7828 or mnext-nicollet@umn.edu.
Data included is taken from the Minnesota Department of Health Daily reports. Because all data is preliminary, the change in number of cumulative positive cases and deaths from one day to the next may not equal the newly reported cases or deaths.
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