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Three Former 4-H Members Receive New York City Fashion Scholarships

Three former 4-H’ers from Iowa have returned from an all-expense paid trip to New York City where they received $5,000 scholarships and were recognized at a fashion industry dinner. The Iowa State University students were recipients of the prestigious Young Menswear Association Scholarships.

“This event is like the Super Bowl of the fashion industry,” said Dianna Walsted, scholarship recipient. “It was a great event that was solely directed to us, the YMA Scholars. It was so great to see how much they value young, intelligent individuals who are entering the fashion industry.”

Kristin Geiger, Boone County; Dianna Walsted, Woodbury County; and Jaclyn Wernimount, Calhoun County, are all apparel merchandising and design production students at Iowa State University. The three have another binding factor -- all were past 4-H members.

“4-H showed me how to be compassionate through volunteer work, how to be creative through group craft projects and how to persevere when it came to the trials and tribulations of projects,” said Walsted about her 4-H involvement.

Walsted also recalls participating in volunteer work with her 4-H club. New Iowa State University Extension research shows that Iowa youth credit their 4-H clubs with making them better citizens, leaders and communicators.

“I always loved the accomplishment I felt after going to the fair and showing all of my hard work,” said Wernimount of her 4-H projects. “I felt the same way after I was awarded the YMA Fashion Scholarship. After working so hard on something, it feels amazing to see the outcome.”

Wernimount started sewing in 4-H and grew from there. She completed a service project through 4-H for a local youth treatment center by making pillowcases. She also created baby blankets as a 4-H member for children born during National 4-H week. In a 2008 study by Iowa State University Extension, it was found that after youth had participated in 4-H, 80 percent improved their citizenship skills through 4-H involvement.

“I believe it would have been nearly impossible for me to acquire the necessary skills and experiences that have allowed me successes like the YMA scholarship without 4-H,” said Geiger. “While I was in the program, I was oblivious to how much those projects and activities were shaping me, improving my abilities and helping me grow.”

Geiger has remained active in 4-H after high school, being a special guest at the 2009 4-H Stitch This! runway show. Stitch This! is a competition similar to the show Project Runway, where 4-H’ers take an old garment and turn it into something new. In 2009, more than 10,500 4-H youth were enrolled in the clothing project area, making it the fourth most popular project area.

These three young ladies made the most of their 4-H involvement, have continued to succeed in their interest areas and have a very promising future.

“The scholarship provided me with numerous contacts and a no-fail method of finding a great internship,” said Walsted.

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