IMPERIAL COUNTY — “I can’t speak highly enough about her, she’s one of my favorite kids ever,” said Educational Specialist for Imperial County 4-H, Anita Martinez.
Sixteen-year-old Imperial High School student, Addison Holbrook, was recently selected by California 4-H to become a state ambassador, becoming the only ambassador representing Imperial County at the state level.
4-H is a youth development organization, and while normally associated with livestock and the fair in Imperial Valley, Martinez said they also feature programs in rocketry, horticulture, cooking and baking, and stem and coding.
According to Martinez, there are currently 15 Imperial County 4-H clubs, from Calexico to Westmorland and that range in terms of age as some are as young as under six years old and some have been around for decades. At one point they had as many as 853 members in the Valley region.
“4-H is everything, it’s everything we hope for our youth, it’s community service and involvement. There’s public speaking and sewing and an opportunity for students to learn computer science,” said Martinez.
Martinez said Holbrook is a perfect example of what 4-H is all about.
“I see how much somebody takes advantage of the programs and all the projects and the skills that they learn, how they flourish in college and just in life in general. I feel it’s one of the best programs around for your child to be a part of,” said Martinez.
Holbrook has been involved with 4-H for eight years since she started working with livestock back in the 4th grade. Holbrook said that she really was not aware of all the different positions that were available at 4-H. That is, until some of her instructors introduced the vast world of 4-H. She said she was instantly attracted to some of the organization's most prestigious roles.
Holbrook said that she was very much encouraged by her father to be a part of the program and had that drive to push to be a great force in 4-H. Once she was done working with rabbits, she went on to become an officer at 4-H, regularly attended 4-H camps, and was a part of planning teams and state committees for the organization and eventually led her to become a county ambassador and now a state ambassador.
“State ambassadors are really the face of the youth for the organization, so they are expected to go to all of the events to make appearances, to participate in all of the events, but to help in the planning of all of the events,” said Martinez.
Holbrook said it means a lot to her to become a state ambassador, meeting a personal goal of hers since joining 4-H. She said she was very excited to see the email confirming her new position.
“This is something I’ve been wanting to do for years and years and years once I figured out what a state ambassador was in the sixth grade. I ran out and told my mom and she was super excited and then my dad was also super excited,” said Holbrook.
Martinez said Holbrook is someone who will go far in life as she is repeatedly amazed with how Holbrook balances the many responsibilities in her life. Martinez said that even during the pandemic, Holbrook still cared for the animals, did photography, and served various roles like being the vice-president in several clubs.
“She’s in AP everything, she takes extra courses, she’s always doing reading, she’s always got homework, she’s always got projects that she’s doing and she somehow finds a way to get that all done and to be a big sister,” said Martinez.
Holbrook said she loves the experience in leadership and in public speaking she is getting through being involved in 4-H. She feels 4-H has made her a better leader and cherishes the relationships forged in the program.
“It has a lot of real-world opportunities that come in handy. And so, part of the reason why I do it is not only from the growth you really get, but also you meet so many people and you make so many friends and it’s just so much fun,” said Holbrook.
Martinez called Holbrook a “force to be reckoned with.”
“She’s just got this special drive in her that you don’t see with everyone and that’s why we’re extremely proud of her,” said Martinez.