In today’s competitive society, it’s not enough to just be a face in the crowd. It’s crucial to stand out and leadership is an effective way to do so. Nearly every organization and club offers its members opportunities to gain leadership experience.

Why is leadership so important? The skills you gain will last a lifetime and help to set you apart, which is very important when applying for jobs. Leadership offers real-world experience with public speaking, conducting business meetings, managing people, organizing events…all tasks that most of us will be required to do in the future. And it’s fun!

It’s important to get involved early. After all, today’s 4-H members are tomorrow’s dairy leaders. Even something so small as running for an office in the local 4-H club can add up to big results years down the road. It did for me. Talking about leadership always makes me think back to 2002 when I became the vice president of my 4-H club. For an extremely shy 13 year old, this was HUGE. I used to be terrified of public speaking, but 4-H gave me the confidence and the skills I needed to succeed.

Learning how to run a meeting and organize events were only two of the important skills I learned in 4-H that I use all the time. Last September, I had an opportunity to speak at the National 4-H Dairy Conference luncheon in Madison, Wis., on behalf of the American Dairy Science Association. I would never have been able to get up and speak to a large group without the essential skills I gained through 4-H. 4-H is an amazing organization and one I’d recommend to anyone. I told the 4-H members to stay involved and be passionate about what they’re doing. Who knows, perhaps it will be one of them making that speech on behalf of ADSA in six years.

College clubs offer stress relief, fun, new friendships and a lot of knowledge. You can learn a lot by getting involved and going to every event and conference you can. I was elected as the WSU Dairy Club historian during my first meeting freshman year. At the time, they were in need of someone who loved pictures and I fit the bill. However, this led to three more years of leadership positions and a lot of great experiences.

My involvement in ADSA leadership allowed me to network with dairy science professors, industry professionals, members of the ADSA Board of Directors and ofcourse, ADSA-SAD students. It’s so much more than just running a few meetings at the national conference. As president, I was responsible for organizing and managing conference calls, coordinating plans with the rest of the officer team, attending various conferences and events on behalf of ADSA and more. As I mentioned in my last blog “Networking for the Future,” life’s all about who you know. What better way to meet people in the industry than by working with them to better an organization?

What distinguishes a good president from a great one? The ability to work well with others. By others, I mean the rest of the officer team, others in the organization, those outside the organization, etc. Team work is vital.

There is something for all ages. From 4-H and FFA to collegiate clubs and national organizations, the opportunities are endless. The skills learned and memories made will last a lifetime. It’s easy to sit back and let others lead the way, but where’s the fun in that?

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