Since the age of eight, Addisyn Bengtson has been active in 4-H, finding her passion in livestock, vet science, and cake decorating projects. As she has grown, she has added the Teen Leadership project, where a teen develops a project of their own for the year and builds their leadership skills through the process. When selecting a project this year, Addisyn said, “I noticed there weren’t a lot of flags in the barns at the (Marias) fairgrounds, but we have a lot of veterans come to the fair and it’s good to show respect for them at a big event.”

That inspiration encouraged her to develop plans to install a flagpole on the 4-H side of the fairgrounds that would be complete with American and 4-H flags during fair week, with county 4-H ambassadors raising and lowering the flags daily. Addisyn proposed her plans to the Marias Fair Board and the Marias Fair 4-H livestock committee, both who strongly supported the project. “It was kind of nerve wracking presenting in front of a committee of adults asking for their support and a donation,” she commented.

With the backing of those groups, Addisyn then finetuned her plans to submit a grant proposal to the Montana 4-H Foundation for a People Partner grant. The grant process included securing quotes for the project, developing a budget and securing community donations (such as concrete from Billman’s, in kind support from the Fair Board, and $200 from the livestock committee) to demonstrate local partnerships for the project. In April, Addisyn received word that her grant proposal was funded at the maximum level of $500.

With the grant confirmed, Addisyn’s project was set in motion with the goal of completing it by the 2022 Marias Fair. However, expenses have increased since the initial quotes were received, and additional donations are needed to meet this timeline. She is currently working on another grant proposal through the Montana Department of Agriculture and is also seeking community financial support.

Addisyn hopes her project will better the community and be appreciated by fairgoers. In addition, she hopes to inspire other 4-Hers to enroll in the teen leadership project and take on improvements in their own community. “If a younger member, or any 4-Her, sees a 4-Her doing a project they are proud of, it makes others want to do something as well. It’s a domino effect and it builds. One or two 4-Hers becomes three or four 4-Hers who want to help,” Addisyn said.

Through this project, Addisyn said she’s learned communication skills, how to present to a group, and to interact professionally with adults. She has been in contact with donors, suppliers, and gained experienced in completing grant applications. “The big thing has been communication, there’s so many people helping,” she said. Within 4-H, Addisyn said she’s learned to be a part of the community, be responsible for her actions, be a leader in and out of 4-H and has gained people skills that allow her to interact with people of all age groups.

Long-term, Addisyn has the goal to major in Ag Business in college with plans to become an artificial insemination (AI) technician for cattle. “I wanted to go to vet school for the longest time, but after helping with AIing this year, I’ve realized I’m more interested in that,” Addisyn said. Addisyn’s interest in AIing was piqued through helping the Mike and Lori McCauley family with AIing on their

ranch this spring as part of her beef breeding project. No doubt the skills she’s gained as her club president and experience in her market beef, beef breeding, teen leadership, vet science, and cake decorating projects will serve her well no matter which route she pursues.

The 16-year-old 4-Her concluded, “I want to inspire the public to respect those who’ve served.” To help Addisyn reach her goal and complete this project for the Marias Fair July 20 – 24, donations of any level can be mailed to Longview 4-H Club, 1210 E. Main, Cut Bank, MT 59427 (memo – flagpole).

- by Kari Lewis, MSU Extension – Glacier County Agent -