Back row L to R: Kaylee Simmer, Andrea Phillips, Easton Kort, Wesley Phillips, Bethany Danielson, Allison Phillips
Front Row L to R: Kloie Nordick, Kiersten Harrom, Willem Pesch, Becker Kort, Rachel Danielson, Hadley Marquart, Brennen Kort

Minnesota 4-H held the North-West Regional BLU and TEEL leadership workshops on February 4-5 at Castaway Club in Detroit Lakes, MN. 14 youth from across West Otter Tail County were in attendance.

In February, youth from across Minnesota gathered to participate in the annual 4-H Building Leadership and Understanding (BLU) and Teens Engaged in Emerging Leadership (TEEL) workshops. Four regional BLU and TEEL leadership events were held across the state. BLU was facilitated by youth leaders from the Minnesota 4-H State Ambassador program, and TEEL was led by older 4-H youth leaders and 4-H alumni. The events were also supported by a team of adult chaperones.

This year’s theme focuses on “Seasons of Growth.” Youth learned about leadership while connecting to their own personal story and experiences through hands-on activities. They engaged in small group discussions, educational workshops, and large group activities to meet other young people from throughout the region. Youth also had the chance to learn about the Crayon Initiative, which is an organization that takes used crayons, melts them down, and creates new crayons for kids in the hospital. This organization helps bring joy to children who are ill and keeps millions of crayons out of landfills. 

BLU focuses on youth who are in middle school to help them develop their leadership skills, whereas TEEL targets high school-age youth to help them take their leadership skills to the next level and help them look deeper into their journeys as leaders.

Using a youth-teaching-youth model, the 4-H BLU leadership workshops are developed and led by 4-H State Ambassadors and Minnesota 4-H youth who have been selected to serve as spokespeople for 4-H. Their purpose is to educate youth and adults about the importance of youth development, leadership, citizenship, service, teamwork, and other invaluable life skills. To challenge the older youth that attend, TEEL is designed and facilitated by a team of older youth and young adult leaders to build on the leadership skills older youth have developed at BLU and through their lived experience both within and outside of 4-H. 4-H staff from the area also plan components of BLU and TEEL to bring a regional perspective to the statewide focus.

To learn more about 4-H in West Otter Tail County, contact 4-H Extension Educator Ethan Willoughby, at 218-998-8760 and visit the website,