Monday, March 8, 2010

Blast from the Past

It was a blast from the past this weekend. Stafford County 4-H Club Days was on my agenda Saturday morning. I have a long history with Club Days, going back several decades to my own days as a Pratt County 4-Her.

(This was the only photo I could find of my own 4-H talk days.
I'm sure there are others at my parents' home.)

Randy & I were community leaders for our local Corn Valley 4-H club for a dozen years. During our tenure, we were (I was!) responsible for writing the club's model meeting. For the uninitiated, that is a scripted meeting done in front of a judge.

Back in our day, the model meeting was a requirement for a purple seal, 4-H's highest honor for club work. These days, clubs can choose to do some other group activity. Only one of the three county clubs still does a model meeting. Corn Valley did a club skit, and another club sang a choral number.

It's probably been four years since I was able to go to Club Days. Mom's Weekends at Kappa Kappa Gamma or Theta Xi at K-State have conflicted, or I've had some other obligation. But on Saturday, I accompanied a Corn Valley 4-Her's vocal solo. I went early so I could see some of the 4-H talks and demonstrations.

And it definitely took me back to the days of helping Jill & Brent with 4-H talks. I am an admitted perfectionist, so the kids did a LOT of practicing.

This was Jill's very first 4-H talk. She demonstrated a Raggedy Ann Salad (that's who was coming to dinner!), as well as a candlestick salad. Jill's interest in food and nutrition began with 4-H and many years later led to her career as a dietitian.

She and her friend Holly gave several team demonstrations. Their first was on the Food Guide Pyramid. Their second one (pictured above) was "Fit to Be Tied," in which they demonstrated pretzels. They (and the moms!) literally made HUNDREDS of pretzels when they opened The Pretzel House for Stafford's Oktoberfest that year. They also did a demonstration called "Shape Up," where they showed how to shape dinner rolls.

This was the first of Brent's many magic demonstrations. In later years, he did do a couple of talks featuring his photography project.

So why go to all the trouble? I am a big believer in the 4-H program. It shaped my parents, my siblings and me, Randy and his siblings and my own kids.

And it was definitely worth the time and effort. Jill & Brent had no problems with public speaking - in 4-H, in the classroom or in the community. It also taught them parliamentary procedure. Because we had so few older 4-Hers in our club when the kids were little, they had to take on officer roles early on. It was a struggle to have a 4th grade president. But they never hesitated to run for office in high school or college settings after their years of holding 4-H offices.

They learned record keeping (I always say their 4-H books and photos are better organized than any other portion of their lives because we were forced to turn in 4-H books annually!)

They had the responsibility of feeding and caring for pigs and cattle. The sale of their livestock helped finance college and other expenses.

They did community service projects, individually and with the club. They learned to work with other people to accomplish a common goal.

A few years ago, Kansas 4-H celebrated its centennial. I hope it's around another 100 years. It is definitely a program worth preserving.

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