As my last year at the Clinton County 4-H fair came to a close, I started to reflect on my time there. The hundreds of projects I’ve submitted doesn’t even compare to the challenges, hardships, and learning opportunities I encountered. I took on leadership roles and volunteered when needed as I cherished the idea of 4-H fairs dearly. I was on the officer board every year in my club, I was on the 4-H board and subcommittees planning for the fair throughout the year, and was the supervisor for multiple judging contests at the fair. I earned many awards but also accepted many defeats. I started off strong in the swine area winning champion my first year and reserve my second year; also doing very well in overall swine exhibitor throughout my years. I ended getting 2nd in livestock judging contest senior showman after usually getting last every year, I received 1st place or 2nd almost every year for photo and horticulture ID contest at the fair, and got multiple trophies from gardening, crafts, or animals. Being in the newspaper for our vegetable and flower gardens was also a big boost to my self-esteem as a child. My greatest accomplishment was winning Outstanding 4-H’er of 2012 and a $100 savings bond. There were still things I regretted doing or not doing, but it was part of my learning process along the way (like wanting to pretend to be the auctioneer my last year in the show ring but chickening out).
Overall, if the fairgrounds are still around by the time I have my own children, I plan on making them members of this amazing program. It will teach so many things about life you won’t find anywhere else; especially if they will show animals. The goal of 4-H is truly to develop citizenship, leadership, responsibility, and life skills through experiential learning programs. This isn’t a day, week, or year process; it’s for lifetime. And so, I bid-you-a-do for now, with the 4-H pledge always near to my heart…
I pledge my head to clearer thinking,
my heart to greater loyalty,
my hands to larger service,
my health to better living,
for my club,
and my world.