If you want someone with a wide variety of 4-H experience, Kallen Anderson is your person. Anderson served as an officer in her Lost Grove Leader 4-H club from 5th grade on. As a Webster County 4-H’er she was on the County Council, the Central Area Council, State 4-H Council and participated in the Citizenship Washington Focus and National Congress trips. For projects, Anderson heavily participated in food and nutrition, clothing, fashion review, clothing selection, personal development, horticulture, cat, communication events, and home improvement project areas. She had a few years of showing sheep and bottle calves thrown in there as well.
“4-H has impacted me in so many ways, from the friends I’ve met, skills I’ve learned, and the experiences I’ve had,” Anderson says. “However, I think the most impactful thing 4-H taught me was how to break the mold. How to be different than those around me and be confident in that. 4-H gave me the confidence to actually be myself and be who I wanted to be, NOT who other people thought I was or who I had been when growing up.”
Anderson also credits 4-H with becoming a better communicator and learning how to build rapport with others. “I was shy growing up – I remember at my first 4-H meeting I could barely even introduce myself because I was so nervous to talk. 4-H is what made me comfortable talking with people of all backgrounds, and has led me to succeed in college and, now, as a dietitian professional.”
Anderson is the registered dietitian serving with Iowa State University Dining. She provides nutrition education and support for students who have meal plans on campus. This includes helping to manage the Special Diet Kitchen for students with special dietary needs, providing nutrition counseling for students struggling with eating disorders, digestive issues, and other diagnosed conditions that require medical nutrition therapy. Anderson works with the chef team to ensure balanced meals and does quite a bit of engagement and outreach with educational programming on campus.
“4-H also taught me to keep pursuing for a goal. I have had many setbacks while working toward my professional goals. 4-H taught me to never give up, and to not be afraid to take a different path to reach that goal,” Anderson said.
4-H not only builds values and skills but also provides unique opportunities. Anderson says there are many experiences she wouldn’t have gotten without 4-H. She met lifelong friends from all around the state and traveled to Atlanta, Georgia and Washington D.C. “It was my leadership experiences with event and program planning that helped me the most during my collegiate, and now professional, career. Experiences such as State 4-H Council and planning State Conference, being a camp counselor for our Junior 4-H Camp, and serving on the Webster County Council,” Anderson said.
Another favorite experience for Anderson was working at the Iowa State Fair as Food & Nutrition staff. “I just love the ISF – seeing the full set up of the static exhibits and being part of its history is just amazing. Getting to know volunteers, staff, and knowing where the exhibits were being displayed at was so fun,” Anderson said. “It is also a great time to get to know other 4-Hers from around the state, live on the fairgrounds, eat fair food, and see acts at the free stages.”
In her free time, Anderson keeps busy with a good book or anything active outdoors. In the summer it’s kayaking, hiking, boating, and biking; in the winter it’s snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, and ice fishing. She continues her leadership experiences serving on the campus Eating Disorder Treatment Team and the Food Security Task Force.
Anderson also gives back by her involvement with Iowa 4-H! She has continued to volunteer as a judge for State Awards, several county fairs and the Iowa State Fair. And she is a current co-advisor for the State 4-H Council. Anderson continues to be involved because she sees the importance of the 4-H Program.
“The 4-H Program teaches youth how to be independent. 4-H teaches a youth how to work toward a goal or project completion – maybe they are successful, maybe they aren’t. 4-H teaches youth how to problem solve and learn from their mistakes,” Anderson said. “4-H provides the safety net from when youth fall from the tightrope, and it also provides the ladder to get back up and try again. I believe that is why the 4-H program is so important.”