South Dakota 4-H International Program seeks host families

SDSU Extension
Farm Forum

BROOKINGS — South Dakota 4-H International Exchange program is seeking South Dakota families to host middle-school age youth from Japan for summer 2018.

“Being a host family is a really amazing experience,” said Kristi Van Tassel-Hinkle, South Dakota’s 4-H International Program coordinator, a 4-H leader and the owner of New Beginnings Greenhouse in Highmore. “I enjoy seeing how much the youth change after living in a different country for a month.”

Kristi was first introduced to 4-H International Exchange Program when her daughter, Brittany traveled to Costa Rica for a month-long exchange. Since that time, she has hosted three youth. This year her youngest daughter, Shelby is participating in a 4-H exchange to Japan.

“I am really interested in Japanese culture and want to experience what life is like in a foreign country,” explains the 17-year-old Holabird native.

Kristi explains that in addition to teaching the youth you host about life in South Dakota, her family learned a lot about the country and culture of the youth they hosted.

“In addition to the friends they have here in South Dakota, my children now have friends from Japan and Norway,” she explained.

Sign up to host

Host families are needed for summer 2018: July 21-August 18.

Since partnering with the organization in 1979, South Dakota 4-H has hosted about 650 delegates from Japan, Costa Rica, Norway and Finland. Through the decades, 30 South Dakota 4-H members have traveled abroad through States’ 4-H International exchanges.

Kristi and South Dakota’s States’ 4-H International program were recently recognized with the Outstanding Quality Program Award.

To learn more about how you can become a host family, contact Kristi Hinkle at 605-852-2298, or 605-870-0080 or e-mail her at