City Lifestyle

Want to start a publication?

Learn More

Featured Article

The 4-H Way of Life

The Head, Heart, Hands, and Health of our County

4-H is the largest youth development organization in the nation, shaping more than six million kids annually as they learn life, leadership, and service skills. 4-H was founded in 1902 as a club-based youth program where members have the opportunity to develop a wide range of skills and foster a relationship with agriculture. 4-H works to develop the leaders of tomorrow. 

In partnership with 100 public universities and a massive Cooperative Extension System, 4-H is available to children in urban, suburban, and rural communities. 4-H members work collaboratively to address some of our biggest issues through programming, clubs, camps, and community.

4-H is thriving in Larimer County with thousands of participants from all walks of life. The Larimer County Fair is the culmination of their year’s work with livestock shows, judged competitions, speaking engagements, and horsemanship contests. 

Loveland + South’s publisher, Kristi Dressler, has a long history of 4-H in her family. In fact, her grandfather – Donald L. McMillen – is credited with revitalizing the fair and rodeo in 1947 after it had been canceled due to the polio epidemic. Donald was an ardent supporter of the fair and especially children’s involvement. 

Throughout his life, Donald worked diligently to ensure the success of the children and the 4-H programming at the Larimer County Fair. To this day, 4-H is a major part of the fair with completed projects in livestock, creative arts, natural resources, and STEM.  

Donald passed away in 1965 but his legacy lives on. "My dad believed that 4-H taught youth responsibility. His passion was to see them raise animals and create projects, compete fairly, and learn lifelong lessons." - Ginger Montgomery (McMillen), Donald's daughter, says. 

All 4-H projects are designed around the fact that kids learn best by doing. Each project is a hands-on approach to learning or improving current skills. To complete a project, kids will finish many components that include learning experiences, leadership development, an exhibition of work – often including a public speaking component – and reporting to reflect on the lessons learned. 

A recent study of 4-H conducted by Tufts University found that youth who participate in the program are significantly less likely to engage in risky behaviors. They are also more likely to give back to their communities and they have a more positive outlook than non-participating peers. 

During the Larimer County Fair, guests are invited to browse 4-H projects located in the Thomas M. McKee 4-H, Youth, and Community Building during open exhibit hours. The Larimer County Fair also has Open Class exhibits for those who completed projects but are not 4-H members. 

There are more than thirty active 4-H clubs located throughout Larimer County. Youth in the are invited and encouraged to join a club and choose projects that interest them. For more information, visit

Past participants agree, 4-H undoubtedly shaped their lives for the better. It gave them the skills and resources needed to lead in their own communities, run successful businesses, connect with others, and problem-solve. 

4-H has successfully developed leaders holding positions around the county, including many Larimer County elected officials, in the past. However, the organization recognizes a leadership skills gap in today’s youth and is actively working to provide more young adults with opportunities to develop the traits needed to become the leaders of the future. 

The Power of 4-H 

“My involvement in 4-H began at eight and continued through high school. Club meetings helped me learn how to successfully run a board meeting and interact with other professionals, a skill I use to this day. Currently, my husband and I own a large animal vet practice where we are deeply involved with local 4-H and FFA members through their show projects.”- Katelyn Luckett, Former 4-H Member and Co-Owner of Maverick Animal Health

"My time in 4-H molded me into the person I am today; it was my first opportunity to see how much I loved leadership and helped me become the leader I am today." - Sydney Wilkinson, Former 4-H Member and Ag Educator 

“I showed market steers in 4-H from eight, all the way through high school. Not only did this teach me to face my fear of managing a huge animal in the show ring, but it also helped me earn money each year to pay for college. I gained confidence, life-long friends, and the resources to pursue my dreams.” - Kate Shelton, Former 4-H Member, Loveland+South Contributor, and small business owner 

"I have been a 4-H leader for 30 plus years because it is so rewarding. The kids benefit from learning life skills, ranging from public speaking to organization, to record-keeping. There is no greater joy than a smile on a child's face when they feel successful and recognized." - Bryant Miller, Current 4-H Leader

"My dad believed that 4-H taught youth responsibility. His passion was to see them raise animals and complete projects, compete fairly, and learn lifelong lessons." - Ginger Montgomery (McMillen), daughter of Donald Lewis McMillen. 

  • Kate Shelton
  • Donald Lewis McMillen
  • Photo by: Janelle Kemper
  • Photo by: Janelle Kemper
  • Donald Lewis McMillen