Winter 2019

Growing future 4-H leaders

Siblings Eldon Tessman and Elaine Christiansen
Courtesy of U of M Extension

Siblings Eldon Tessman and Elaine Christiansen grew up on a potato farm in Brooklyn Park, Minnesota, and joined their local 4-H club after their father was killed in a hunting accident. They credit 4-H and volunteer Ellen Bohanon for getting them through a critical time in their lives. “4-H was Ellen’s life, and she shared generously,” says Tessman, ’50 B.S.

It was the beginning of a lifelong relationship for Tessman and Christiansen with the University of Minnesota and 4-H, which is part of the U’s Extension. Tessman has made gifts to support potato research, and Christiansen has funded scholarships in nutrition and applied economics. Together, they established the Tessman/Christiansen Endowment Fund to support Minnesota 4-H. 

“It’s a way of honoring Ellen and 4-H leaders who give so much,” says Christiansen, who worked for Extension and managed the Minnesota State Fair 4-H cafeteria for 30 years. 

The siblings currently serve on a committee that reviews applications from Minnesota 4-H clubs seeking funding for service learning projects. Their endowment recently funded a proposal from the Pleasant Valley club for an event called My Day to Dabble, which introduced youth in Carver County to 4-H. Tessman and Chris-tiansen also supported a 4-H disc golf project for the Campbell Busy Bees club in Campbell, Minnesota. 

“We’re delighted to help these clubs and the young people they serve,” Christiansen says.