Well Connected Communities Welcomes New Youth Leaders to Steering Committee

The Well Connected Communities initiative relies on input from a national Steering Committee to ensure that strategies and tactics utilized by the initiative align with best practices of related fields. The Steering Committee includes representatives of various organizations who share a commitment to health equity, local action, youth voice, and advancing the community engagement mission of the nation’s land grant universities. Members are thought leaders in the organizations they represent and offer advice to initiative leadership at various times throughout the year.  Members of the steering committee are listed here.

In 2021, Nathan Grine, Sophia Rodriguez, Paris Woods, and Mayyadah Zagelow, have joined the steering committee as youth members.

“Because the decisions that we make today will have a significant impact on the type of world that the young people will live in as adults,” says Roger Rennekamp, the Health Director with the Extension Committee on Organization and Policy (ECOP), “it is fitting and proper that they are involved in making those decisions.”

Meet these youth and read their bios below.

Nathan Grine | Ohio State University
National 4-H Council Young Alumni Advisory Committee Member

Nathan Grine was involved in the Ohio 4-H program for 10 years as a member and continues to give back as a young alumnus. He is currently a first-year graduate student pursuing a master’s in Higher Education and Student Affairs at the University of Maryland. Following graduation, Nathan would like to work in higher education advancement and fundraising. While in 4-H, he was heavily involved in leadership programming and youth advocacy efforts at both the state and national level. Nathan is continually invested in elevating all voices and perspectives while creating equitable experiences that further promote youth development.

Sophia Rodriguez | University of Georgia
National 4-H Council Young Alumni Advisory Committee Member

Sophia Rodriguez has been involved in 4-H in Georgia for 10 years. She is a junior at the University of Georgia majoring in Human Development and Family Sciences, International Affairs, and minoring in Spanish. Post-graduation, Sophia aspires to do research for an education policy firm and contribute to bettering the United States’ education system. As a 4-H’er, she focused on programs highlighting Communications, the Arts, and Healthy Living, and currently, Sophia finds joy in cultivating genuine support systems that champion inclusivity and advocate for others.

Paris Woods | James Madison University
National 4-H Council Young Alumni Advisory Committee Member

Paris Woods has been involved in 4-H in Virginia for 12 years. She is a Senior at James Madison University, majoring in Justice Studies with a concentration in Social Justice and Interventions, with minors in Political Science and Nonprofit Studies. Post-Graduation, Paris hopes to receive her masters in International Relations and Diplomacy to hopefully work for an International Human Rights organization, or as a United States Diplomat. As a 4-Her, Paris was heavily involved in 4-H Summer Camps, Teen Development Programs, and served on the Virginia 4-H State Cabinet for two years. She has an ever-growing passion for youth and story-telling with ambitions to increase opportunities for intentional service.

Mayyadah Zagelow | Washington State University | Washington
2021 Healthy Living Youth in Action Award Winner

At a young age, Mayyadah Zagelow struggled with her mental health through anxiety and selective mutism, unable to express her thoughts at school and in other environments. Combined with bullying at school by those she had once considered friends, Mayyadah felt isolated and betrayed. That’s when she joined 4-H, and her journey to overcoming anxiety began. Through 4-H, Mayyadah learned to turn difficult experiences into empowering opportunities as she learned to speak up and speak out for herself and for others who feel voiceless.   

Passionate about LGBTQ+ rights and addressing social inequities, Mayyadah is a founding member of a grassroots youth movement in Washington state called the Teen Equity and Inclusion Task Force. Through this taskforce, Mayyadah is working with fellow 4-H’ers to educate adults and teens alike through workshops and grassroots efforts about gender identities, expression, orientation and biological sex, as well as the challenges facing the LGBTQ+ community in hopes of creating a world of inclusion for all 4-H youth. The task force also provides a safe space and healthy environment for youth to share their stories. Using teamwork strategies and communication skills, Mayyadah seeks to lift up the varied stories of 4-H’s diverse youth. Mayyadah recently graduated from high school and is currently attending Central Washington University.