National 4-H Week: Alumni Reflections

My 4-H Experience

By Makayla Mashlan, Fast Trackers 4-H Club graduate


Travelling worldwide as a business owner, photographer, and teacher at 20 years old wasn’t something I had ever dreamed about doing when I grew up. As a first grade student, I had joined 4-H thinking I would get to do some fun arts and crafts and meet some new friends. Little did I know that I’d gain many more life skills that aren’t taught in schools which would later lead me to my career in photography and business.

4-H is so much more than the cows and the crafts. I joined 4-H drama where I gained confidence in public speaking. (I even dressed up in a bunny onesie and got on stage at 18 years old) Playing 4-H basketball improved my collaboration skills. In middle school, I traveled across the state on the Explore Wisconsin trips with my new friends. Before I knew it, I was travelling the east coast with 40 strangers and even went to Washington DC for a national conference. Of course, I also got to do my arts and crafts. I did sewing, ceramics, basketry, recycling, woodworking, home environment, baking/cooking, painting, arts and crafts, and photography.

In high school, photography became my favorite project to bring to the fair every year. I had no hopes of doing it professionally until I was asked to shoot someone’s wedding. They loved my 4-H work so much they thought I was qualified enough for a whole wedding. After a mentorship, dedication, and lots of hard work, the rest is history. I’m now a professional wedding and lifestyle photographer and I own a business… Makayla Mashlan Photography LLC all because first grade Makayla liked bringing pretty flower pictures to the fair. All the travelling I had done in 4-H had made me strive to travel more and expand to destination weddings. I’ve been to Dallas, New Orleans, and Chicago for work events and now I’m heading to Thailand where I’ll be a teacher while continuing photography.

Without knowing it at the time, 4-H has shaped my future in so many more ways than one and I am forever grateful for my experience. If you’re not already enrolled in 4-H, I recommend contacting your County Extension Office (920-832-5123) to learn more on how you can get involved in a club near you!

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Categorized: 4-H