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Summer FourWord and Alumni Spotlight: Katie Ruff


Katie Ruff, Clayton County 4-H alum, was a student at Kirkwood Community College, and later the University of Northern Iowa, who hoped to become a teacher. Now, she's an Iowa State University alum, a young entrepreneur and the owner/operator of her store, By The Spoonful, in McGregor, Iowa.
You may wonder how Katie went from future educator to successful entrepreneur, and how this ties back to Iowa 4-H. We sat down with Katie to find out more about how her 4-H experience helped shape her as an adult and helped her get to where she is today.
Katie came from a family that was passionate about 4-H. As soon as she was old enough, she became a member of the Girard Eager Hands in Clayton County and exhibited projects in areas ranging from swine to home improvement and anything in between. Her favorite, however, was food and nutrition.
Katie's passion for all things 'kitchen,' came from her grandmothers. She had the opportunity to experiment on all kinds of recipes with ingredients that were grown from her grandmothers' gardens. Katie credits 4-H with creating the opportunity to learn from and with her grandmothers and mom. These women also helped Katie find some of her favorite past times-- sewing, needlework and crocheting.
Katie went along on her sister's ISU campus visit and learned more about the culinary programs that were offered at the university. Shortly thereafter, she made the decision to transfer from UNI to ISU where she earned her degree in food science.
Katie worked for Hy-Vee for eight years after graduating from Iowa State. She moved up in several different departments and loved to teach customers about different aspects of cooking that they may have felt uncomfortable with before.
However, when the opportunity to move back home to open a kitchen and cooking store in McGregor came up, Katie knew that it was the perfect fit for her. She would use this small local food store to educate her customers about new products and how to use them.
Katie noted that her experience with 4-H as a youth definitely tied into her life as a young entrepreneur. Through 4-H, she learned the skills and value of volunteering, responsibility, leadership and public speaking. Her involvement with the food and nutrition project turned into a passion and a career.
She told us that operating By The Spoonful has not always been the easiest task, but, "Even if you fail, you learn something and grow. I've had many failures within my business, but I learned from them and came up with new ideas to keep my business afloat and successful."

To read Katie's full story, check out this summer's FourWord. To receive the newsletter regularly, click here.

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