Without a strong will and determination or the many lessons learned through 4-H, Kaleigh Summers would not be where she is today.
The 21-year-old agricultural education major from Marshall, Mo., was one of three in charge this year to make CAFNR Week run as smooth as possible. Being selected to carry the responsibility of running CAFNR Week is the result of years of determination from Summers, a person who has high hopes for life.
“I grew up in 4-H, and that has probably been the biggest thing in my life that has changed me,” Summers said.
Summers began 4-H at the age of 7, and was given many opportunities to develop as a leader and gain leadership skills.
At the age of 12, Summers set one of her first goals. She wanted to become a Missouri 4-H Council Member. So, when she 16 she observed the 4-H Council elections to see what it took to become a member. One year later, she was elected to the council.
“We have always joked that Kaleigh let us know from the very first day that she would do things her way and that she would be in charge,” said Kaleigh’s mom, Kim Summers, a school teacher from Marshall, Mo. “She has always been very determined to do things her way and there usually wasn’t much you could do to change her mind. If she wanted something she would dig her heels in until she got it.”
Now, Summers is part of the collegiate 4-H chapter, Mizzou 4-H, which allows her to give back to the junior 4-H program, the program she credits with developing her love of being a leader and strong determination to succeed. This year, Summers is the president of the central 4-H region, which gives her responsibility over the Midwest Region Collegiate 4-H chapters.
Additionally, she is involved in the CAFNR Student Council and last year was on the CAFNR Week Activities Committee. She is also in the sorority, Phi Mu.
“I’m a huge goal setter,” Summers said. “If I do something I’m going to do it 100 percent and if there is an opportunity to go higher, then I’m going to go for it.”
Goal setting has been a big part of Summers time within the Phi Mu Sorority chapter at MU. As a freshman, she set the goal to become a member of the Phi Mu Executive Board, and started early by becoming her new pledge class vice president. From there, she earned several positions from dance director to philanthropy chair. Summers saw Phi Mu as an opportunity to become a better leader, an opportunity that she ran with.
“I just try to take steps to make myself a better person and a better leader, in order to be in that top position,” Summers said.
Summers landed an internship this summer with Osborn Barr, a communications firm based out of St. Louis, Mo., that specializes in agriculture. She worked all summer with the group Missouri Common Ground to help organize their webpage, write a blog and connect with clients.
“Her internship over the summer with Osborn and Barr was life changing,” said Casey Nighbor, Summers’ past roommate and one of her closest friends.
Nighbor credits Summers with being a great friend and role model, calling Summers’ urge to lead “contagious.” Nighbor enjoys hearing about Summers experiences and leadership opportunities.
When she has free time, Summers enjoys going to the lake with friends and family. Her favorite time of the year is the Missouri State Fair, when she is able to reconnect with all of her 4-H friends from years past.