Erin Slagell launched her 4-H career with baking, canning and sewing projects she could enter in the county fair. She recently topped her 4-H career by being inducted into the Oklahoma 4-H Hall of Fame, the highest award a 4-H’er can achieve at the state level.
Slagell, a member of the Weatherford 4-H Club in Custer County, was recognized during the Honors Night Assembly during the 99th State 4-H Roundup. Traditionally held on the Oklahoma State University campus, this year’s event was organized virtually due to the COVID-19 pandemic. She also received a $5,000 scholarship sponsored by Oklahoma Ag Credit.
Slagell is a 10-year veteran of the Oklahoma 4-H Youth Development Program. She has put her sewing skills to good use in a number of community service projects, starting with a pillowcase and growing more adventurous with aprons, skirts, dresses and even a coat. Earlier this year she committed to making cloth face masks, donating169 of them to hospice and nursing home workers, grocery employees and food bank volunteers.
“Each year my technical skills improved as I challenged myself,” Slagell said “One of the first workshops I attended was helping an older 4-H’er sew eyeglass cases for soldiers overseas. I helped on another project sewing ‘boo-boo bears,’ which were given to firefighters to give out to children they encountered on the job.”
She said those early experiences motivated her to step up and lead service projects on her own. She put her abilities to good use making handmade pillowcase dresses for her Little Dresses for Africa project. As her skills advanced, she discovered her love for creating blankets and made blankets for at-risk boys who were part of the Foss Lake Adventure Program. When wildfires ravaged western Oklahoma in 2018, she made blankets for victims who had lost everything. In addition, she also donates baby blankets to her local hospital for newborns. Through her work with Project Linus, a nonprofit organization that provides homemade blankets to children in need, Slagell has donated 406 blankets.
Sewing is not her only skill; she also is known for her delicious cinnamon rolls – and yet even more community service. Slagell has baked goods at local events and taken online orders, generating $4,286 for Change for Change, which benefits Oklahoma Children’s Hospital Foundation.
Slagell is a regular volunteer at the Weatherford Food and Resource Center where she presents food safety workshops, stocks shelves and serves as a shopping assistant. Slagell also was instrumental in organizing a team to participate in the WFRC CanStruction sculpture contest in which the team built a structure made entirely from canned foods. Slagell and her team solicited donations, shopped for the food and built a barn made from 850 cans of pork and beans and a silo made from canned peas. Another year the team constructed a caterpillar and watermelon slice. Her teams have gathered 4,500 pounds of canned good and generated $2,600 for the food bank, Slagell said.
Throughout her years in 4-H, Slagell has worked hard to develop her leadership skills, serving as the Southwest District reporter, West District representative on the state leadership council. She just completed her term as state council reporter and now serves as an Oklahoma Healthy Living Ambassador. She has represented the state at the National Healthy Living Summit in Washington, D.C., and has served as a Clover Buddy at Special Clovers Camp.
Jordan Nel, OSU Extension 4-H educator in Custer County, said she is an exceptional role model for younger 4-H’ers.
“Erin always is willing to go the extra mile and do whatever needs to be done,” Nel said. “Erin makes things fun when she’s teaching and takes time to explain how to do things when younger 4-H’ers may get frustrated. She’s a constant encourager for those she is mentoring. Also, people from across the county know she is the one to go to for baked goods. When she holds a bake sale, she donates the money to the Change for Change project. She’s humble about what she’s done and truly has a heart for those she is serving.”
In addition to being inducted into the Oklahoma 4-H Hall of Fame, Slagell also was named the winner of the advanced family and consumer sciences project, receiving a $1,200 scholarship sponsored by Oklahoma Extension Association of Family and Consumer Sciences and Oklahoma Association of Extension 4-H Agents. She received a $1,200 Gibson-Ott Scholarship sponsored by the Harold P. and Jeanne Gibson-Ott Endowment and the $2,500 Shaw Family Scholarship sponsored by the Shaw Family Endowment. She also was named a Blue Award Group member.
“4-H has taught me to be fearless and to try new things,” Slagell said. “I’ve developed confidence in myself. I truly believe 4-H influences young leaders who will give back to their communities.”
Slagell, a 2020 graduate of Weatherford High School, will attend OSU in the fall and major in agri-business and pre-law. She is the daughter of Dwayne and Kerry Slagell.