Danielle Dewees designs her passion for 4-H

Danielle Dewees sprays down a screen in the printmaking studio.
Danielle Dewees sprays down a screen in the printmaking studio.

Danielle Dewees designs her passion for 4-H

calendar icon08 May 2013    

Danielle Dewees, a junior from Nelson, Neb., was involved with 4-H while growing up. When she visited the University of Nebraska–Lincoln as a prospective school, she asked if there were any opportunities to work in the 4-H department.

Since then, Dewees has been able to use her major in studio art with an emphasis in graphic design to help develop manuals made for 4-H that will be distributed across the nation.

Dewees discovered her love of art through her family, who are also artists.

“As somebody who looked up to them, I also enjoyed art,” Dewees said. “To me, it seemed like something I was really good at, and something I liked. So I thought, ‘Sounds like a good career choice.’”

Through her work at the Nebraska 4-H office on campus, Dewees has been able to design a curriculum manual for youth.

“I know 4-H; I know the logistics and everything about it pretty much,” she said. “It seemed like as easy fit, already knowing the background and having a background in 4-H.”

When Patricia Fairchild, curriculum design and youth entrepreneur specialist, had learned about Dewees’ graphic design experience, she said he wanted to take advantage of that.

“She has a lot of creative talents and initiative and she keeps blowing my socks off with what she keeps producing,” Fairchild said.

Creating a clothing curriculum manual

Dewees started designing the “Shopping in Style” manual by creating basic templates and presenting them for the Youth Curriculum Committee, which provides a youth perspective for the development, marketing and evaluation of 4-H curriculum developed in Nebraska according to their website, to decide which ones to use.

“It was really nerve wracking for me but a very good experience,” she said. “As a graphic designer, that’s something you have to do. You have to be able to present your projects and your work to people.”

When she started the design process, she began drawing everything that reminded her of clothing and wanted to come up with a theme.

“I had to have a theme that carried out through all four manuals but one that would be individual in itself,” Dewees said.

Dewees also spent a lot of time collaborating with the Youth Curriculum Committee.

“I really feel that my position is really more than a graphic designer,” she said. “I’m in touch with writers and figure out what is needed and when. It’s just kind of the basis of a graphic design job.”

A large portion of Dewees’ work has also been making the website more user friendly and aesthetically appealing.

“It was before but she was putting her input on it, her perspective and it’s having a fresh look because of her,” Fairchild said.

Being a part of this project with UNL’s 4-H department became a UCARE (Undergraduate Creative Activities and Research Experiences) project for Dewees as well.

“I am doing something real,” she said. “This is very big and interesting. These will get published, and people will read these and buy these. My name will be on the cover as graphic designer. It was really exciting, and I think a wise step.”

Fairchild said they hope to have all five manuals finished and published when she is finished with college.

“We’re trying to have it so by the time she graduates she’ll have the only curricula in the country that will be a comprehensive technology and math related clothing design project for the whole stages of youth,” Fairchild said.

Current projects prepare Danielle for her future career

Outside of working in the 4-H office, Dewees does freelance graphic design such as logos for businesses. It all began when her cousin started a clothing business and asked Dewees to create the logo.

While working on freelance projects and the 4-H manuals, she reminds people that she is first and foremost a student.

“I make sure that they know that my school comes first, and that’s my priority,” she said. “I plan on graduating as soon as possible. If it’s midterms, I tell them I won’t work on it and will get to it when I’m done with school stuff. When I’m at work, I work on it but when I’m at home or anywhere else, I don’t.”

Photo of Danielle Dewees spraying a screen

Dewees is also a student ambassador for the Hixson-Lied College of Fine and Performing Arts.

“At first it wasn’t something that sounded all that interesting to me because I’m not the most outgoing person and not the most talkative to strangers,” she said. “It did make me nervous, but what drew me to it was the fact that I know a lot about the Hixson-Lied College and studio art, so I can give students the insight of what it was like for me coming from a teeny, tiny town where we had four art classes to a college where you have unlimited opportunities and art. It’s showing students what’s possible.”

After she graduates, Dewees hopes to continue working at the 4-H office and pick up freelance photography.

“It seems like something that is possible to happen,” she said. “But if that doesn’t happen, I would hope to find a full-time job in Lincoln doing some sort of graphic design work.”

Fairchild said she has enjoyed watching Dewees develop her talents over the past three years and believes she has a bright future.

“I’m very proud she is within our department,” Fairchild said. “I think everyone should be commended for giving someone like Danielle the opportunity to succeed and certainly she has the capacity that she’s taking advantage of it in the best of ways. She’s really going to make something of herself, I think. Everyone has done their part and will be sharing the success of a wonderful young lady.”

- Ally Phillips, College of Journalism and Mass Communications