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Mary Henderson

4-H allowed Mary Henderson to develop her love and passion for horses.

Mary grew up in Wisconsin where she took horseback riding lessons along with her two sisters. She was involved in a 4-H program where she learned how to groom and care for horses including those with diseases and health challenges. 

By the time she was 13, Mary and her sisters were able to purchase their very own horses using their savings from babysitting; and they spent two years building a fence on their own property for them. Mary owned a half Quarter, half Welsh pony, which she enjoyed riding to the local Ozaukee County Fair.

She credits 4-H with preparing her to take on these responsibilities. “The fact that our parents let us buy horses and let us build the fence was amazing.”

"Every urban kid should have some exposure to farming and animals and 4-H is a great way for youth to have outdoor experiences."

She notes that her greatest triumph was getting to the fair safely because her horse “misbehaved.” The only show she won was one which involved bribing her horse with food which she describes as “embarrassing”- even to this day. Aside from horses, she describes 4-H as a nice complement to her participation in the marching band; a Girls Club formed by her Mother and other local women; and her experience as an American Field Student (AFS) participant.

Mary received her master’s degree in Public Health and Business Administration from the University of California, Berkeley and an AB in Economics from Harvard University. Before retiring, she worked with Kaiser Permanente where she served in various key leadership roles. As an active volunteer, Mary co-chairs the Lawrence Hall of Science Advisory and serves as president of the board for Family Support Services in the Bay Area.

She believes every urban kid should have some exposure to farming and animals and 4-H is a great way for youth to have outdoor experiences. The courage to do something not as hip as going to computer camp and really listening to yourself about what values you have is important.