For many 4-H kids, farming and livestock projects are the highlights of their overall experience. That’s not the case for Jeannine Niehaus, however Jeannine grew up in California’s Central Valley and attended school out in the country of San Joaquin Valley. At the time, she remembers spending more time with 4-H activities than at her own high school as 4-H programs, including camping, provided a more important and meaningful bond than she found with her high school peers. Growing up, 4-H provided her with leadership skills and camp experiences where she was able to interact with kids all ages, believing that it is “great to have an organization that cross-pollinates the older and younger kids.” She recalls working with older members and how she was constantly impressed by them, which led her to join a county-wide radio program at Stockton where she reported local club news and events that were happening and interviewed her fellow peers. She credits 4-H for enriching her socially by providing her with different opportunities out of her horizons.
During her 4-H years, Jeannine enjoyed working with her hands. Whether it was sewing, cooking, or interior designing, she found herself competing at local fairs, fashion revues, and demonstration days. Her most vivid memory is winning the ribbon on the county level and receiving a special ribbon to move on to the state level for an embroidered night gown which she had sewn all on her own.
Today, Jeannine creates stoneware pottery that reflects a Japanese-inspired style with an emphasis on nature. Her deep involvement in showcasing her hand-sewn creations and entering competitions has translated to her work today. She has promoted pottery shows for the last decade and credits her success to the invaluable skills she picked up while working on committees and becoming a leader for camps during her 4-H years.