4-H scholarships connect Rams across generations

A crop of very special new students moved into Colorado State University – and colleges across the state – this month. In early August, Colorado 4-H announced 16 scholarship awards that will support 11 students attending CSU and other colleges and universities throughout Colorado.

As a part of Colorado State Extension, 4-H has been a cornerstone in the delivery of CSU’s land grant mission since 1910. 4-H is the largest positive youth development organization in the country, providing opportunities for youth to learn, practice and apply knowledge to prepare them for success in higher education, career and life. In all, more than 110,000 youth across the state benefit from Colorado 4-H efforts and activities each year, from programming on healthy living, to Mobile STEM Labs, to agriculture projects like raising and showing animals.

Colorado 4-H, in partnership with the Colorado State University Foundation, offers over a dozen scholarship opportunities annually. Many of these are made possible through the generosity of community members with their own 4-H connection. One of those generous donors is Cleon Kimberling, whose family endowed scholarships for both 4-H and Future Farmers of America (FFA) participants. Kimberling earned his bachelor’s degree in animal science from CSU in 1951 – 70 years before the 2021 recipient of the Kimberling Family 4-H Scholarship will begin her journey in the same department.

A CSU legacy

Kimberling’s roots with CSU run deep: he also earned a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine in 1959. From 1965 to 2005, he worked as a CSU Extension Veterinarian and was a faculty member in CSU’s renowned College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences. He was named the 2011 Livestock Leader by the Department of Animal Sciences for his exceptional contributions to the industry.

Kimberling’s 40 years as the state Extension Veterinarian connected him with 4-H youth in every corner of the state.  In addition to serving Colorado, Kimberling traveled across the globe and helped improve animal health in some of the most impoverished areas of the world.

“Life is all about service,” said Kimberling, noting that he’s always loved the guiding words of the 4-H oath. “4-H helps young people mature and lead productive lives.”

Cleon Kimberling's CSU legacy continues through the Kimberling Family 4-H Scholarships.

The next generation of service

For Rhyse Campion, the 2021 Kimberling Family 4-H Scholarship recipient, those words ring true. She took some time out from preparing for the final Boulder County Fair of her high school career to share her own experiences with 4-H. The value of service is a constant theme in Campion’s story – both in 4-H and in life.

“That’s part of the reason I wanted to stay close and go to Colorado State – being able to still help people,” said Campion. “I want to be one of those leaders that can just help people with their projects. Just be a helping hand.”

Learning about 4-H as a 10-year-old, Campion didn’t think it was possible for kids like her.

“I was always kind of interested in stock but since we lived in town, you know, you can’t keep a cow in your backyard in the suburbs,” she said.

Rhyse Campion and her award winning goat
Campion with her Angora goat wether, Mario.

A visit to the 2013 Boulder County Fair changed things: Boulder County 4-H had just initiated a “Lease-a-Goat” program that provided Angora goats for youth to care for and exhibit. From there, she was hooked, going on to win several small animal Round Robin Championships (a contest where the top showman from each species competes, showing fiber goats, utility goats, rabbits, chickens, Guinea pigs, and dogs) and serving in leadership positions on several 4-H clubs and councils.

These experiences shaped Campion’s confidence and helped her find something she is truly passionate about: animals. That passion will carry her forward as she begins her studies in Animal Science. She also wants people to know that there is more to 4-H than meets the eye.

“I show cows and do embroidery through 4-H, but there’s just so much more. The community I’ve been able to be a part of is truly amazing. There are all these amazing leadership development activities and ways that you can better yourself. It’s not just for kids that live on a farm.”

The impact of opportunity

For students like Campion, scholarships can make or break the college experience. Both of her parents work in live theater, an industry that was hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic. Despite this, Campion was determined to go to college and did everything she could to help fund her education. Donors like Kimberling help make the dream of attending college possible for students like Campion.

Across generations and graduation years, Rhyse Campion and Cleon Kimberling share a dedication to community and passion for animals that will make her college career – and his ongoing impact – possible.

This is just one story from one year: across 4-H scholarship opportunities stretches a philosophy of giving back and supporting youth as they develop into the leaders of today. This week, 4-Hers from across the state will meet in Pueblo to compete in 4-H activities at the Colorado State Fair. Many of them will become future Rams. Visit www.colorado4h.org for a full list of this year’s 4-H scholarship recipients, learn more about programs and projects and join the 4-H network.