It was important to Keith’s father that he have the farming experience, so when he was a young boy they moved from the city to a small farm in Bakersfield. Like many 4-Her’s, Keith started out raising livestock. His first project was swine and when she had a litter of 10-12 piglets who became escape artists, and Keith had to chase them all over the ranch, he realized the swine project wasn’t for him.
For the remainder of his 4-H career Keith raised steers. At the young age of 12, Keith raised 6 steers, doing all the work himself, and showed them at that year’s fair as a pen of 6. Keith’s love of community service was ignited when a bull he sold at the fair went to benefit a third world community in an effort to improve the quality of livestock.
Keith was very involved in his club, giving presentations and safety demonstrations. One ended up on TV, and in flames! The presentation was about safety on the farm. The setting: two young boys and two rags, one soaked in potassium magnate, the other in glycerin. The demonstration was to show the danger of leaving rags covered in unknown chemicals lying around. They boys tied the rags together and pulled . . . the results were explosive! The rags burst into flame in front of a live audience!
Keith took advantage of the leadership opportunities 4-H offers and was president of his club as well a leader of many clubs and activities throughout high school. Keith says he had the leadership abilities, organizational skills, and self-confidence to lead due to the experiences he had in 4-H. These skills garnered through 4-H gave him the upper hand that many kids in his school, who were not in 4-H, didn’t have. It wasn’t until he won the National Leadership and National Achievement awards that he saw the other side of 4-H. These awards gave him the ability to go to 4-H National conferences. During his time as a 4-H’er Keith also won the Diamond Star (today it is called State Ambassador) which allowed him to go to a conference in Washington, DC. At these conferences Keith had the opportunity to meet fellow 4-H members of different backgrounds from all over the country, as well as state senators and the Chief Justice who at the time was from California.
For a farm kid from Bakersfield, it was quite an eye opening experience.
It was through these experiences that Keith realized that his true love was not for livestock and agriculture, but for working with and helping people all over the world. Getting wider exposure to the world through these conferences, seeing and participating in management activities, and working with people from all over the country opened his eyes to how much he enjoyed working with people.
The confidence he developed in 4-H, and the love of helping others, led to his participation in student government at his Alma Mater UC Berkeley. While at UC Berkeley Keith saw many issues with the way the student government was run, and decided to do something about it. He was elected as an official and remained one for 2 of his 4 years at the University, where he further honed his abilities in organizing, leadership, and management. Keith’s 4-H competencies, and passion to help others led him to a prestigious career as the head of the Federal Housing and Urban Development (HUD) program in San Francisco.
His community service continues to this day. For the last 20 years, Keith and his wife Holly have been involved in the Rotary International organization where Keith is an official. Rotary is focused on local and international projects that benefit the community as well as humanitarian efforts. Currently Keith and his wife Holly are involved in a Rotary project focused on improving the quality of life by providing jobs for the very poor in Ecuador through helping them set up their own small businesses. He has also helped with providing schools, water and sanitation systems, and equipment for training programs. While the volunteer work in Ecuador can be daunting, Keith and his wife Holly find it fulfilling and important. This comes as no surprise given his history and background in 4-H.