Chrstine Tew, 4-H Alumni
Aaron Baker

In 1999 the Dixie Chicks sang the lyrics, "Both members of the 4-H club, both active in the FFA," in their song, "Goodbye Earl."

For some, these lyrics are just lyrics, but for Aaron Baker, vice president of Axiom Strategies and Clout Public Affairs, a Missouri-based political and public affairs consulting firm, they remind him of his favorite childhood memories.

4-H is in Aaron’s blood. His grandparents and parents were members, and at age 8, Aaron joined the Home Pioneer 4-H club in Macon County. He became involved in livestock judging and showing Simmental cattle at the Missouri State Fair, as well as at national functions. Aaron was president of his club and served as the president of the state 4-H council later on.

However, 4-H provided more than just cherished memories for Aaron — it provided him with the skills and experiences he uses every single day in his career and in his time spent as a 4-H volunteer.

As a 4-H member, Aaron learned valuable lessons of organization and of planning events and leading meetings. From experiences like planning the interstate exchange trip, a program that lets teenagers experience 4-H in another state, Aaron can now organize a conference for his job with those skills learned years ago.

Aaron is the club leader for the Home Pioneer 4-H Club in Atlanta, Missouri. His advice to other club leaders? "Pause and ask yourself, should I ask one of the members to do it?"

It is important to let the kids learn from those experiences, Aaron said, which is why Aaron has a rule that every member must do a demonstration. With 65 kids in their club, the time does add up, but it’s worth it.

Aaron’s experiences teaching 4-H members and leading a club play hand in hand with his role at Axiom Strategies and Clout Public Affairs, where he handles crisis communication, government affairs and political campaigns. After earning his degree in agriculture economics at the University of Missouri, he finds this work a perfect fit.

"A lot of Missouri’s economy and elections are rural-based," he said. "Agriculture is our No.1 industry, so having a knowledge of how agriculture and rural America thrive is a really good fit for Missouri elections and issues."

Social media is a big part of what Aaron does every day. He uses it to tell the 4-H story, much like how he tells the story of a candidate he is working with.

He runs the 4-H club’s Facebook page, and "every post demonstrates what kids are learning and how they’re becoming adults," Aaron said. Their club also uses Facebook for parents and volunteers to communicate about projects, due dates and important information.

Recently, the Home Pioneer 4-H Club has started a video record book pilot program to document their projects, the outcome, their goals and lessons learned.

"Their 4-H story is being told to the world instead of on a form that no one will read, but through a video the public will watch," Aaron said.

Aaron may have aged out of being a 4-H member when he was 18, but that hasn’t stopped his desire to serve and improve the program for other youth.