National 4-H Week is on right now through Oct. 11. The annual week-long event celebrates the accomplishments of the youth involved in this program. It also helps raise awareness about the positive impact that 4-H has on our future leaders in agriculture.
This is my youngest sister Kaley’s final year in 4-H, and my family is already counting down until my daughter Scarlett (now just 4 months old) will be big enough to start showing heifers and steers in 4-H. Yes, I know it’s 8 years away, but 4-H runs in our blood, and we are all excited for the next generation of our family to get involved!
In his 20s, my dad was a county Extension agent; he’s the one who encouraged me to get involved in 4-H at the tender age of 8 years old. I fondly remember that my first heifers’ names were Apple Blossom and Sparkles. My first speech was about Limousin cattle. My first craft was a t-shirt that I sponge-painted shapes onto. In my first livestock judging contest, I marked my score card wrong and got a zero on a class. On my first 4-H camping trip, my mom wrote me notes and slipped them into my suitcase.
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It’s amazing that those “firsts” helped shape me into the person I am today, and helped me develop the life skills that I would later apply in college, in my marriage, on our ranch, as a parent, and in my career. I don’t think I appreciated all that I was learning until long past my time in 4-H, and my decade spent as a 4-H member was definitely 10 years well spent.
I doubt I could ever forget the 4-H pledge recited at my club’s monthly meetings: “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.”
I think any person would be hard-pressed to find another program that instills such important life lessons at such an early age and helps develop adults who will make a difference in their communities, personally and professionally.
This week, I salute all of my fellow 4-H members, both current and retired. No matter where life takes you, 4-H lessons can be used to become a better person and a stronger leader.
Were you a 4-H member? What were some of your fondest memories of being in 4-H? Share your stories in the comments section below.
The opinions of Amanda Radke are not necessarily those of Beefmagazine.com or the Penton Farm Progress Group.
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