Archive for the ‘4-H’ Category

…My hands to larger service…

“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.”

The 4-H pledge is one of those things that is buried in the deep corners of my brain, along with my childhood address (Rural Route 2, Box 17), how to ride a bike (at least I hope that’s still in there), and the words to “Jesus Loves Me.” I attended a club meeting last winter to talk about my job in agriculture, and even though I hadn’t been to one in more than a decade, I still knew every word.

I’m a proud Happy Hustler with a 10-year 4-H career that began at age 8 (well, 4-H age 8) and ended after my senior year of high school. I took nearly every project offered in Woodford County with the exception of showing any kind of livestock, rocketry, and woodworking. I made Jackpot Drop cookies, nine-patch pillows, chalk/carbon/pigment art, simple circuits, and bookmarks. I researched foreign countries, collected stamps, took pictures, and explained how to test toys for safety. I looked at every school assignment through the lens of “can this go to the fair?” (Sixth grade bug collection, I’m looking at you!) and spent summers putting the finishing touches on all my projects, reading and re-reading the fair book to make sure I had every detail right.

4-H taught me about leadership, citizenship, and parliamentary procedure. I gave my first public speeches in front of my club, explaining various things about the projects I was working on. I served on committees, then in officer roles, then as a county ambassador for a year. I learned how to look a judge in the eye and confidently tell them about what I created. I met other 4-Hers, some older ones who I looked up to and learned from, and some younger ones who I hope I was able to help along the way.

You could say it’s a family tradition. My grandpa was a long time club leader and helped run the fair’s food stand for years. My mother showed sheep, among other things, and was our county’s fair queen. She became a leader when I started my 4-H career and served for 20 years while my brother and I were involved. I hope Little C will choose to be in 4-H, and when she does, I plan to volunteer my time as a leader as well. It’s a small way to give back to an organization that survives through volunteers and their efforts.

For the last five years, Big C and I have served on our county’s food stand committee – just like my grandpa did many years ago. We have a much nicer, more modern building than he had, but the menu is still almost identical. You can’t come to our fair without trying a homemade lemon shake-up or a Pronto Pup (which most people call a corn dog).




Early in the day, before we got too sweaty – but we were still smiling 14 hours later when we got home!

We manage all aspects of the stand for one day of the fair, everything from coordinating volunteers, cooking food, and maintaining health department standards. It’s always hot, always tiring, and always a good day knowing our efforts help keep the fair going another year.

You see, our fair is a true 4-H fair. We don’t have a carnival, we don’t have an open show, and we don’t charge admission. It’s held in a beautiful park with mature shade trees perfect for escaping from the late July sun. All the items on display were made by 4-H members in our county, and their accomplishments are celebrated with ribbons and plaques. Most judges are local people who volunteer their time to evaluate projects and provide constructive feedback.

It’s the kind of thing that only works because of people who care. We’re not the biggest or the most entertaining, but when it comes down to what matters – helping young people develop skills they can use for a lifetime – I’d say we come out on top.