Friday, July 15, 2016

Throwback Thursday on Friday

Throwback Thursday seems to be a popular feature on Facebook on Thursdays. However, I spent all day on Wednesday (and a good portion of Tuesday afternoon) at the Stafford County Fairgrounds, helping with the 4-H foods department. So my Throwback Thursday has evolved into a Throwback Friday blog post. (It seems that my motto this month is like the White Rabbit in Alice in Wonderland:  "The hurrier I go, the behinder I get.")

Our family has plenty of old photos related to the Stafford County Fair and the 4-H program. The photo at the top is from 1967. Randy was a 5th grader and in his first year in Stafford County 4-H with his first 4-H beef project.

Our kids continued that tradition 25 years later or so. Jill's and Brent's 4-H records take up a yardstick-long piece of book shelf real estate in the office. But what you learn in 4-H is much more valuable than you can encapsulate in a record book.

Before you can confidently lead your bucket calf into the show ring at the county fair, you have to put in the time.
You sometimes have to dig in your heels and keep practicing - day after day after day.
You have to go out and feed the calves before school and check on them after you get home.
But the 4-H program does more than help you figure out how to lead a calf in a show ring or how to show a pig.
It's about becoming a leader and teaching what you know to other people, too.
Jill's friend, Holly, & Jill making pretzels for a demonstration
Jill, several years later, teaching that skill to someone else - with the same apron!

A few years ago, The High Plains Journal ran a story about 4-H that shared this study:
Young people in 4-H are three times more likely to contribute to their communities than youth not participating in 4-H.
4-Hers all across the nation are empowered to take on the leading issues of their towns, counties and states and make a lasting difference. ... 4-H youth get the hands-on, real-world experience they need to become leaders and to make positive differences in their communities.
"The 4-H Study of Positive Youth Development"
 from Tufts University 
While I didn't take livestock to the Pratt County Fair, I did my share of foods talks and experimented with recipes before taking them to the fairgrounds to be judged. I learned to sew and crochet, too. But it was the leadership skills that most impacted my life as a child and today.
I made the cookies and the dress.
My family's involvement with 4-H started with my parents back in the 1940s. Both were members of the Lincoln Bluebirds 4-H Club in Pratt County, the club that my siblings and I later joined. (It later combined with another club and became the Lincoln Climbers.) All four of us and all seven of the grandchildren have been part of the 4-H program, two in Pratt County in the same club their grandparents attended, two in Stafford County and three in Clay County.

Randy's parents were leaders in the Stafford County 4-H program, too, though we're not sure they were 4-H members themselves. For a dozen years, Randy & I were community leaders of the Corn Valley 4-H Club, the same club Randy was a part of back when he took his first steer to the fair.

In 2006, we celebrated 100 years of Kansas 4-H. The youth program has been part of the national landscape since 1902.

The 4-H website says:
The 4-H idea is simple: help young people and their families gain the skills they need to be proactive forces in their communities and develop ideas for a more innovative economy. That idea was the catalyst to begin the 4-H movement, and those values continue today.
Growing through 4-H isn't like magic (though that self-determined project was one of Brent's favorites when he was a little guy.)
There's no sleight of hand. It requires putting in the time and effort - as an individual, as a family and as a community.

That's how the magic happens ... the kind that lasts a lifetime.

We aren't community leaders or project leaders anymore, but we do help out in small ways during the fair. I am a superintendent with 4-H foods judging, and Randy usually helps with the hogs, though he wasn't able to this year.We also are proud to sponsor some of the awards. We chose project areas that were important to us or our children, like the Grand Champion awards for foods and for bucket calf.  We also sponsor a dog award in memory of Randy's mom, Marie, who was a dog leader in the county for years.

The bucket calf award will get handed out this afternoon, and the market beef show is later tonight. It still tugs at my heart a little bit to watch pony-tailed girls and proud little boys walk into the ring with their bucket calves. I always wish I could hear what they are telling the judge!

Randy and I also made some entries. After our nearly month-long wheat saga (a wrap-up is coming next week), Randy earned a second-place finish in the Market Wheat Show. Since we got 2.20" of rain yesterday morning, he was there to pick up his prize. Several of my photos did well in the open class photography judging. Once a 4-Her, always a 4-Her, I guess!

This post is revised from the archives. 


  1. Ah 4H it does bring back memories. I was never in 4H but was a leader for 15 yrs. All my kids were members . we were into horses though. They went to Fair and then some were good enough to go on to State. The big time.
    Being responsible was what I think they learned the most and also having fun with your peers. I enjoyed being their 4H leader too. Now bob and I enter photos at the Fair and last year we entered some of our garlic. Got blues too!!
    Good post Kim

    1. Thanks, MaryBeth! I expect our little granddaughters will be 4-Hers some day as well, since both Jill and their daddy were 4-Hers who benefited greatly from the program. With living in a city, their experience will likely look a little different, but I know they will still learn valuable lessons in responsibility, teamwork, follow-through and leadership.

  2. It is great to read about the Stafford County Fair and the 4-Hers (which was something that was quite foreign to me before reading here on the Country Line a couple of years ago!) Congratualtions both to you and Randy, not only for your enteries but also for being so heavily involoved in helping out at the fair. So do we get to see your winning photographic entries??

    1. Probably at some point. I don't want to come off as bragging. When I brag about Randy, it's different!

    2. Randy looks so proud. Please don't let us miss out on seeing your entries.

    3. I have a blog post ready to go soon.

  3. Australia had / has the Junior Farmer movement. I tried to google to see if it still exists, but the results not clear. I grew up on a farm, but our weekends were spent playing sport. Our country school had a Project club. Each school had a different focus. Ours was a pine forest.
    I like that 4-H stands for 'head, heart, hand, health'.

    1. The 4-H program has been a powerful one for our family. There probably aren't quite as many kids/families involved in 4-H in our rural communities today, mainly because of lower populations. But 4-H has evolved to also serve urban children. It doesn't "look" the same, but it still teaches many of the same character-building things.

  4. Hope you enjoyed the County Fair this year and congrats on doing well with the wheat and photos.

    I also hope wheat harvest is in the books and you can move on to the next project.

    1. We called wheat harvest done on the same day I helped with the 4-H foods judging. When I called to check on Randy, he had been to two towns to get parts. (I felt bad that I wasn't available to help make the parts runs.) Then, that evening, is when the combine got stuck.

      This week, the guys are working ground and we're getting the 2nd cutting of hay put down. It's extremely hot and no rain is in the forecast until at least this weekend.