Voices of Extension Story Project

For the past century, WSU Extension has applied research and education to improve the quality of life throughout Washington.

As part of our yearlong celebration of Extension’s 100th birthday, CAHNRS Communications invites former and current students, faculty, staff, and friends to share how WSU Extension programs, services, and people have enriched their lives.

Whether Extension has helped you become a better gardener or farmer, improve how your family eats or manages its finances, or teach your child about citizenship, we want to hear about it. We will continue to record the stories that make up the Voices of Extension until we reach 100! To add your story to the collection, as well as read what others have contributed, visit the anniversary site.

Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers was one of the first to submit her Extension story for the project. Read on to see if you can relate.

A lifetime of lessons: Reflecting on my time in 4-H

By Cathy McMorris Rodgers

Kathy McMorris Rodgers as a childFor as long as I can remember, 4-H has had a positive impact on my life. My brother Jeff and I spent many hours raising animals, cultivating a sense of responsibility, and appreciating the value of hard work. When I showed my 4-H animals at the fair, my parents used to tell me, “Cathy, now you save this money so you can go to college one day!” So I did. And I became the first in my family to graduate from college. As a proud 4-H’er, I am honored to celebrate this organization for all it has done to change the lives of millions of children across the country.

In fact, as I look back on the very first public speech I ever made, I have to thank 4-H—it was a speech about salmon! Turns out my three-minute delivery was a few seconds short, and I ended up being docked points for not speaking long enough. Funny thing is, now, so many years later, I’m still making speeches about salmon—and a whole lot of other issues. This time around, however, three minutes is simply a warm-up.

Cathy McMorris RodgersFrom the farms of eastern Washington to the halls of the United States Capitol, I have carried the values I learned in 4-H with me every single day—through both challenges and celebrations. Whether it was public speaking or caring for others, being a part of 4-H taught me so much. The worthy program helped this little girl from Kettle Falls understand the value of hard work and the meaning of a dollar. I did save those 4-H earnings to go to college, on my parents’ advice, and I’m so glad I did. Now, as I spend my days meeting with Eastern Washington friends both at home and in the “other” Washington, I am grateful for the extraordinary opportunities 4-H afforded me—and countless others—throughout our state.