Monday, March 4, 2013

4-H Is "Fun!"

Randy in 1967, a 5th grader and his first year in Stafford County 4-H with his first 4-H steer.
4-H is "very fun." Just look at any beginning 4-Her's permanent record book.

Randy's record book from his first year as a Stafford County 4-Her in 1967 said:
This year is my first year in 4-H. I have enjoyed it very much. Going to the 4-H things has been very fun. I really enjoyed the refreshments very much. I am looking forward very much to next year in 4-H. This year, I have enjoyed 4-H camp and have got lots of ribbons. 
My first 4-H story was also written in 1967, as a fourth grader. (The photo at the left was the one attached to my 4-H permanent record.) My story was longer. (There's a big surprise, right?) I used the word "fun" six times to describe my song leading job, picking out ingredients for my Snacks and Little Lunches project, 4-H Sunday and assorted other 4-H events. I also "enjoyed" things twice and "liked" 4-H another time or two. A glance at Jill's and Brent's record books mirrored our family's outlook that 4-H is "fun" and very likeable.

4-Hers - and their parents - have been "liking" the youth program for more than 100 years, long before there was a "like" button on Facebook pages. On Saturday, I went to the Stafford County 4-H Club Days. I'm kind of guessing some of the project talk presenters will "like" 4-H Club Days in their 4-H stories later this year, too.

As for me, I "like" just sitting and watching the 4-Hers give their talks, instead of worrying about whether Jill and Brent were going to forget the carefully prepared and practiced talks.  Yes, they got stuck with a perfectionist mother who made them practice - over and over and over again.

I didn't have to race back to the St. John gym to retrieve a forgotten magic prop right before a talk began. I could just sit and smile as I watched a mother mouth the words right along with her 4-Her. Been there, done that.

Jill's first demonstration was on making Raggedy Ann and candlestick salads with fruit and vegetables. (As a dietitian, she's still trying to get people to eat their fruits and vegetables 20 years later.)
Brent's first foray into 4-H County Club Days was a magic demonstration (hence, racing to the gym for magic props). 

I couldn't find a photo of Randy giving a talk, though I know he gave his share. It was a tradition in my family as well, though I didn't find a photo from one of my earlier talks.
My parents were Pratt County 4-Hers back in the 1940s. Randy's parents were leaders in the Corn Valley 4-H Club in Stafford County. They all modeled involvement in 4-H. It was a legacy both Randy and I believed was worth preserving.

Though we "retired" from more active involvement after Brent graduated, we still support 4-H in smaller ways. On Saturday, I accompanied one of my middle school soloists for her vocal solo performance at 4-H Day.

I told Brent I was going. He admits that 4-H was a good program for him. But he doesn't have such fond memories of the model meeting. I guess current 4-Hers (and their leaders) aren't too fond of the model meeting either, since it's no longer a required component of Stafford County's 4-H Club Day.

Via cell phone from Kentucky, he just couldn't see the value in that model meeting, a scripted meeting performed in front of a judge, complete with memorized lines and unusual things like tabling a motion.

"Didn't it teach you some parliamentary procedure?" I quizzed.

Brent wasn't convinced: "Regular meetings taught me that. And you made us practice. A lot."

Guilty as charged, I suppose.

But those talks - whether they were about magic or bucket calves or photography or foods - helped lay the groundwork for the adults Jill and Brent turned out to be. And, yes, even the dreaded model meetings helped do that, too.

Thanks, 4-H!

I pledge my head to clearer thinking
My heart to greater loyalty
My hands to larger service
And my health to better living
For my club, my community, my country and my world.


  1. Love your blog...4-H is great, I never got to attend as a child, but have "helped" several youth in my past with various things..

    1. I'm anonymous,HaHa..
      Vi Zimmerman

    2. Thanks, Vi (AKA Anonymous - LOL!) It has certainly been great for our family. I know you've helped some of our Corn Valley 4-Hers. That community spirit is part of what I love about 4-H!

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