Family bonding

The Phillips family, including William, Allison, Andrea and Wesley are very active in 4-H as members of Oscar-Trondhjem 4-H Club. Living outside of Rothsay on their parents’ , Justin and Karen, farm, the family uses 4-H as a way to bond and work together.

Outside Rothsay, tucked away between pastures and fields, reside Justin and Karen Phillips, leaders of the Oscar-Trondhjem 4-H Club. Along with their four children, Andrea, Allison, Wesley and William, the Phillips family happily attends their meetings and works diligently on their 4-H projects. While the Phillips parents were not active in 4-H as youth, they are fully invested in their own children’s experiences as well as the 4-H’ers of their community.

“4-H has given us lots of opportunities to work together as a family,” Karen Phillips shared. 

Family cooperation is evident as the children helped each other with the livestock and explained how their parents provided support in regard to their various projects.

Andrea and Allison Phillips have been involved in 4-H for 4-5 years. Both well-spoken, thanks in part to the public speaking skills imparted by 4-H presentations, the girls shared their experiences with 4-H. Andrea is closing out her term as president and will be passing the reins on at their next meeting. 

“I like meeting all sorts of new people,” Andrea shared about her favorite aspect of participating in 4-H.

Allison Phillips lit up when sharing the highlight of her 4-H experience, “I like going to the fair and seeing the different people I get to compete against and get to make friends with later.” 

Both Allison and Andrea have been fortunate to participate in fairs at both a county and state level.

Wesley Phillips explained his top choice of activities is “working with the animals,” but he presented his electricity board, which he spliced himself, with confidence and well-deserved pride, as the project earned a reserve-champion award. 

William Phillips shyly shared that “getting the calves ready for the fair” was at the top of his list of 4-H activities. William displayed a well-organized storyboard portraying how to bottle feed a calf, an activity he is heavily involved in at their farm.

All the Phillips children participate in both livestock and non-livestock categories of 4-H. With the positive encouragement of their parents, each child proudly displayed livestock and gave little presentations of non-livestock projects, including loom knitting, crops and shop projects.

In addition to projects and friendships, 4-H instills a sense of community in its members through various community service projects. 

“We like the community aspect of it,” Justin explained, “being able to help out in the community and with friends and those types of things.” 

Community service was a common theme amongst the Phillips family, being mentioned in various capacities and discussed with excitement as the children expressed their ideas for upcoming projects.

The Phillips family supports the 4-H slogan, “learn by doing.” They support the organization’s mission of “engaging youth to reach their fullest potential while advancing the field of youth development” by working together to enhance each other’s experiences and successes. When asked if life would be boring without 4-H, the Phillips family responded “yes!”

4-H begins in October. For more information or to enroll in West Otter Tail County’s 4-H program, visit the University of Minnesota Extension Office website at or call their office at 218-998-8760.

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