Jon Warling, Minnesota Extension Service intern for the Brown County 4-H program in Sleepy Eye, said he has had the time of his life helping 4-H members and their families make a difference in the community of Sleepy Eye.

Jon Warling, Minnesota Extension Service intern for the Brown County 4-H program in Sleepy Eye, said he has had the time of his life helping 4-H members and their families make a difference in the community of Sleepy Eye.

Originally from Brainerd, the 2010 Brainerd High School graduate enrolled in Gustavus Adolphus College in St. Peter determined to complete a degree in the medical field. In Jon's freshman year he was able to intern with Crosby Regional Medical Center with an observational internship. Jon said he watched surgeries, worked with the physical therapy department, in the emergency room and with nurse rotations to get a sense of the medical field.

"I'm a big fan of "Grey's Anatomy" and I fell in love with the surgery unit," Jon explained. "However, through that internship I realized I was more interested in how the teams communicated and how the entire hospital worked as an organization versus the individual surgical side of things." 

When he came back to Gustavus in the fall of his sophomore year, he switched majors to biochemistry, realizing halfway through the year that communications is really what he was passionate about.

Looking for something to do this summer, Jon came across the internship for the Minnesota Extension Office. He called to inquire about it and learned the application deadline ended in two hours.

"I filled out the application, went in for the interview and realized this is exactly what I wanted to do this summer," Jon said. "It was perfect for me." 

Jon said working with adults, kids and people who really want to make a difference in their community is a perfect fit for his summer.

He started his internship in the beginning of June and will be going back to Gustavus after Labor Day to finish his senior year.

Jon said he grew up in the 4-H program in Brainerd as it was a passion of his mom's as well.

"I loved being involved in 4-H while I was growing up," Jon said. "What I like the most is that there are a lot of leadership opportunities within 4-H."

While Jon didn't grow up on a farm or show livestock in 4-H, he said his opportunities were endless. He followed a path of aerospace and photography, was involved in youth leadership programs and the ambassador program that allows kids to take a front role in program development and planning coupled with public speaking.

While Jon is familiar with the 4-H program, he said there are subtle differences between the 4-H program in Brainerd and the 4-H program in Brown County. One difference between the 4-H program he grew up with and the Brown County 4-H program is that family farms here are larger and have only one species that kids generally focus on.

The large project area in Brainerd, Jon explained, was beef and livestock.

"There were a lot of livestock families who showed beef and dairy because they had both on their farm," Jon explained.

"The great thing about Brown County is that because of the large dairy industry here we have a group of 4-Hers headed to the National Dairy Bowl in Kentucky this fall," Jon said. "That's huge for the 4-H program." 

Another thing Brown County 4-H participates in is a livestock auction at the fair. This auction is different from a traditional auction in that the animals are not being bought and sold.

Several of the activities that Jon has enjoyed working on during his time here is the 4-H Livestock Auction and helping the 4-H Ambassadors prepare for the Kid's Day at the fair.

Jon explained that the 4-H Livestock Auction is different than what most people think of when they think of an auction.

"During this auction, 4-H members chose an animal of their own to show at this auction which allows people to bid on these animals to have their name displayed above the animal's stall for the week of the fair," Jon explained. "All the money raised during the auction sale goes directly to that 4-Her for them to use, whether it is saving for college or putting the money back into the animal." 

Throughout the week of the Brown County Free Fair the fair board has set up a day for children's activities. Jon said that the ambassadors are working on putting together informational story boards about the species of animals they show, so that people who come and go throughout the week can see from that board information about the animal.

"This is helpful because a lot of people don't understand what to look for in a show animal," Jon said. "Part of the incentive for this is to get kids interested so they want to go to these shows and realize what the judges are looking for." 

The Kid's Day at the Brown County Free Fair will take place Friday, Aug. 9 beginning at 10:30 a.m. Kids can stop by and pick up schedules and treats in the entertainment hall.