4-H Showcases ‘Learning to Do’

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4-H

Our daughter tucked a red hen under an arm and called the rest of the flock as she walked across the yard at sunset. Our 4-H hens had grazed the lawn much of the day and needed shut in for the night. She herded them well, exhibiting a familiarity with the flock that comes from daily chores. And I just smiled.

Experiences like these affirm why we live out here and do what we do. Camera-less at the time, I enlarged the scene and framed it in my mental archives.

The 4-H Fair countdown begins in our household. Our son joined the club this year, so I expect many fair-time scenes worth capturing by mind or camera. I also anticipate a moment or more of drained batteries. Last-minute project preparations and dawn-to-dusk days at the fair with livestock will do that to a person.

So will the fair’s signature heat and crying cats.

Our farm cat last year made clear that he disliked traveling by vehicle. He equally vocalized his disapproval as an exhibit for our daughter’s 4-H cat care project. Fellow moms stood nearby their minivan hatchbacks and handed general show projects to their kids with a whining cat as their background music. With blue ribbon earned, I summoned my husband to take “Prince” home as soon as possible.

4-H

Moments like these make me appreciate my own parents even more, yet realize why they plodded through project mishaps or stresses when my brother and I were kids. Thankfully, we laugh about the feline fiasco and look at the collective 4-H picture. What a joyful, satisfying feeling to watch your kids personally grow, learn life skills and discover their passions. Quite frankly, I find it thrilling to relive the 4-H experience through them. I watch them learn to cook on their own, grow green beans, construct a wood project, craft a junk drawer robot and raise chicks from two days old. They gain the confidence to speak with adult judges about their experiences. I see them strengthen decision-making skills and tap their creativity. They feel good about themselves, make new friends with similar values, and experience the motivation to make their best better.

For some inspirational thoughts about today’s youth, I recommend a stop to your local 4-H Fair. Browse through the general project displays, walk through the livestock barns, and see what they have accomplished. The project showcase in my county reminds me that much has stayed the same about 4-H’s traditions, impact and values. Yet, the nation’s largest youth organization evolves. Expanding project selections and new learning experiences invigorate young, modern minds – and even my own at a generation removed.

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