At 8, Katelynn Heimericks joined the cake decorating group of her local 4-H club to spend time with her grandma, 10 years later she was chosen as one of only 30 Missouri 4-H delegates to go to the National 4-H Congress in Atlanta, Ga.
The delegates, ages 14-18, who attend the national congress come from 43 states and Puerto Rico to learn about service through community projects and workshops. Participants also have the opportunity to visit different sites in Atlanta.
Heimericks said she went through a competitive selection process, which included an extensive project report form and two interviews, before being accepted as a Missouri delegate. She said getting to travel to different states with 4-H is one of the things she most enjoys about being a 4-H'er.
"I probably would never have gone to Georgia if it wouldn't have been for that," Heimericks said.
She was in Atlanta from Nov. 26-Nov. 30 and was able to visit sites such as the World of Coke Museum and the Georgia Aquarium. One of the things she most enjoyed, Heimericks said, was her group's community project at Chastain Park. The group raked leaves to clean up the park.
"After we were done raking leaves, we all got to jump in the leaves," she said and laughed.
Sharon Horn was club leader of the Fulton Hardin Hustlers when Heimericks was a member. Horn said events like the national congress are good "team building" and "personal building" experiences.
"Any of the events allow them to network, meet other kids," she said. "It's a great learning opportunity, she (Heimericks) can share what she has learned with innumerable other people."
Heimericks said the congress was "neat," because she was able to "meet people from Hawaii and Puerto Rico and people from all different states across the United States."
The Fulton High School graduate is now a sophomore art major at Southwest Baptist University in Bolivar and a member of University of Missouri's collegiate 4-H club. She was a member of the Hardin Hustlers for 10 years, where she spent time in different areas such as arts and crafts, woodworking and horsemanship. However, her main focus was in cake decorating. Heimericks said her grandmother, Marylin Fischer of Fulton, taught the cake decorating and she relished spending time with her.
"My favorite thing before she retired was to go and watch her decorate cakes," she said.
Horn said Heimericks helped teach her daughter, Alli Johnson, about cake decorating one year and was always willing to lend a hand to the younger members.
"She worked with any of the kids that needed help," Horn recalls. "She basically taught my daughter how to be the club secretary and did it quite well. She learned a lot from her."
"Anytime we needed anybody to do anything, Katelynn was right there."
Horn's daughter, 12, has taken over as the Hardin Hustlers' secretary, a job that used to be Heimericks'.
Heimericks said being a 4-H member has helped her learn public speaking, communication and leadership skills through the years.
"Four-H is one of those organizations where you get to learn important life skills and have a fun time doing it," she said.