Day 21: Be a Part of the Fun!

Some of my best childhood and young adult memories revolve around 4-H and FFA activities. I was a proud Happy Hustler for 10 years and active in FFA five, throughout high school and one year into college to complete the requirements of my American Degree.

I can honestly say I wouldn’t be the person I am today without these two organizations. Especially for young people interested in agriculture, there’s no better way to learn skills and make connections that will lead to future success.

4HJoining 4-H at 8 years old, I was instructed in meeting etiquette, encouraged to make a speech in front of the entire club, almost all of whom were older than me, and educated on the importance of recordkeeping. Choosing a project, completing a set of specific activities related to it, and talking with a judge at the fair developed curiosity, perseverance, and elocution. As I became more involved, the opportunities to mentor younger 4-Hers and volunteer for projects both within and outside my club taught me the importance of working together for a common goal and the value of community service. The wide variety of projects I worked with over the years, from cooking to sewing, electricity to fine art, and Read-A-Book to child care provided me practical skills I still draw on today.

FFAI clearly remember looking at a picture in my grandparents’ office of my dad in his FFA jacket receiving his American Degree in the late 1970s, and knowing even as a child that someday I wanted to wear a blue jacket of my own. I signed up for Intro to Ag as a freshman in high school and never looked back. Career building skills I learned in the FFA have proven invaluable many times over as I now both work in an agribusiness and am involved on the family farm as well. But the lasting value of FFA membership for me was the friendships I developed that followed me to college and still find me today. I was able to meet others my own age excited about the agricultural industry, and many work in ag today. I can hardly attend an agricultural event without running into at least one person whom I first met through FFA.

Big C and I have already talked about how many activities we want to see Little C pursue as she gets older. I think there’s a real danger in overscheduling kids today, and I don’t want to see that happen in our family. But at the same time, we want her to experience being part of a group other than her family and realize the importance of taking part in something greater than herself.

We’ve decided that we will very strongly encourage 4-H membership when she’s old enough. There are so many benefits that children in grade school receive from 4-H that they don’t get anywhere else. I hope she enjoys it enough to stay involved though high school, because I intend to raise her to be a good role model for the younger kids coming along behind.

I also hope she’ll consider FFA membership, even if she chooses a non-ag career. Keeping a record book, learning things for contests, and meeting new people are skills any employer will value. The FFA mission of training members for premier leadership, personal growth, and career success reflects the kind of person I hope Little C will become one day.

Little C, my little farm girl, I hope you’ll be as excited to join organizations like 4-H and FFA as I was. You’ll gain so much more than you ever thought possible.

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