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A Cambridge-Isanti High School senior is excelling at the national level in both Family, Career and Community Leaders of America and 4-H.

Abigail Bettendorf serves as the Minnesota state president of Family, Career and Community Leaders of America, earned a first-place award during the national FCCLA convention in Nashville.

Bettendorf took first last summer in the public policy advocate event, and for the event she addressed the November 2021 school district referendum.

Family, Career and Community Leaders of America is a career and technical youth organization that focuses around family and consumer science education and leadership.

“I am currently serving my term as Minnesota state president, so I get to represent throughout our state and all over the country,” Bettendorf said.

As state president, Bettendorf strives to help FCCLA grow their organization.

“I have quite a few responsibilities as president; however, my first and foremost is to serve the members of Minnesota FCCLA and ensure their voices are heard in our organization, so I do a lot of outreach on social media to our members. I also work on planning strategies on how we can include more members in our organization and how we can grow and expand,” Bettendorf said.

This position led Bettendorf to experience more travel.

“I’ve gone to conferences all across the country, which has been absolutely exhilarating and I really enjoy that,” Bettendorf said.

Bettendorf also traveled to Washington, D.C., for the National FCCLA Fall Conference and Capitol Leadership events. While there, she toured the Capitol and met with state Rep. Pete Stauber.

“One of the most memorable things was spending time with my state officer team when we went to Washington, D.C. We had a really great time to bond with each other. I also remember, my meeting with our congressmen was incredibly memorable. I was actually only supposed to meet for 15 minutes, but it went on for a hour, and afterwards he said that it was the best meeting of his week, which absolutely made my day as well,” Bettendorf said.

National 4-H involvement

In November 2021 Bettendorf visited Atlanta where she represented the state of Minnesota and Isanti County 4-H during the national Congress event.

“I was really excited to go and represent Minnesota 4-H at the national level,” Bettendorf said.

Bettendorf was one of seven state delegates to attend the national Congress event that allowed her to meet other delegates.

“I had an amazing time meeting delegates from all across the country and networking and just learning more about 4-H in other states,” Bettendorf said.

The University of Minnesota Extension’s website offered this explanation about the experience:

“The delegates arrived in Atlanta on Nov. 27 and attended the Congress welcome ceremony as well as traded pins with 4-H’ers from other states. Throughout the week there were exciting events such as an international dinner, performances by delegates from other states, service projects, and visiting the Coca-Cola museum. They arrived home four days later with many amazing experiences to reflect on.”

This is the first time in 20 years that Isanti County 4-H had a representative attend the national Congress event.

“The purpose of our delegation of going to Congress was to explore what the experience is all about and determine if Minnesota 4-H should go in the future or not,” Bettendorf said.

Bettendorf first joined 4-H in third grade. Both of her parents were in 4-H, and that’s even where they met. Her father went on to be a 4-H extension educator. It wasn’t long before Bettendorf would learn that being a leader came naturally to her.

“I came to the high school and I was looking for fresh opportunities and friends, as well as in 4-H; that was the point where I became more involved,” Bettendorf said. “I started to notice a natural ability to lead in myself and also the desire to lead, and so I decided why not run for these officer positions. If I run and I lose, I have already learned some really great skills, but if I win, I will be able to have the experience of a lifetime.”

Bettendorf put in hard work and was able to use her leadership roles to move forward in her application to become a delegate.

“At first I had to be in the state leadership role, so I am a state ambassador and then I had to write a couple of essays for a panel to review then sent in my application for those essays,” Bettendorf said.

Jennifer Froehlich, administrative assistant for Isanti County 4-H, was excited for Bettendorf to represent the state.

“She is a wonderful representative of Minnesota and Isanti County 4-H who made connections with youth from 37 other states while attending,” Froehlich said.

Bettendorf discovered many new ideas and projects that can be implemented through Isanti County’s 4-H.

“It was really interesting to learn about all these different things that we don’t do here in Minnesota and take some great ideas back here to make our youth organizations better,” Bettendorf said. “I heard some different states have different projects than we have here in Minnesota, so it just opened the door for us to hopefully create new projects for our members to get involved in.”

Bettendorf really enjoyed the opportunities the delegates had at the event.

“We got to hear from a bunch of really cool speakers who are super inspirational and then we also got to explore Atlanta a little bit. We went to the world of Coke and then we also got to go for a night of culture at the Atlanta History Center,” Bettendorf said.

Bettendorf experienced a great deal of things while in Atlanta but the most exciting were the people.

“My favorite thing that I did while I was there was meet other youth leaders from across the country. Afterwards, we’ve been keeping in touch over social media, and so it was just great to form so many connections with youth leaders who think similarly to me and watch them achieve really great things in their life,” Bettendorf said.

Bettendorf is involved in many other activities out besides 4-H and FCCLA. In school she is a part of mock trial, student council, German club, senior class officer as vice president, National Honor Society and speech.

“I have a calendar, so I put everything on my calendar. I am constantly planning months in advance to make sure I can balance my school responsibilities as well as my other activities that I’m in,” Bettendorf said. “I really enjoy the rush of adrenaline that I get from constantly being busy.”

While Bettendorf enjoys the major experiences she has had across the nation, she appreciates the ones closer to home as well.

“I really enjoy doing community service projects with my chapter. For instance, we recently painted our school bathrooms, so it was really fun to spend a day with my peers doing really great work for our school,” Bettendorf said.

After high school, Bettendorf plans to attend college, but is still deciding where. She wants to major possibly in biology, biomedical sciences or even become an emergency physician.

“I have a lot of family members in the medical field. Hearing about their experiences really influenced me as well as I noticed a desire to serve others in myself, and I’ve always been interested in biology and chemistry and just science in general, and so combining those two passions together made medicine the perfect field for me,” Bettendorf said.

Bettendorf is appreciative of all the people who support her.

“Thank you to J.C. Johnson, our county Extension educator, as well as Katie Walker, who is my FCCLA adviser,” Bettendorf said. “They both have been really awesome role models and great leaders to guide me through my time and these experiences. As well as my parents for just doing everything for me and being the most supportive people possible. I wouldn’t be able to do everything without them.”

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