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Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Why I Love 4-H!

How was your weekend everyone?  As you can tell mine was busy, since I am just now asking you.  If you have been following my Facebook page you know we spent the weekend at the county fair.  It was extremely hot, but everyone worked hard to keep the kids, livestock, and themselves hydrated and as cool as possible.  It was great to see everyone work together when animals were in need of assistance.

I had a question a few months ago from one of my friends that caught another 4-H mom and I a bit off guard,  ”What is 4-H?”  It was hard for us to come up with a quick and easy answer, but over the months I have thought about it and wanted to share my thoughts and a little about the variety of projects that 4-H has to offer these days.  I saw this quote on the Yes We Can! Site and I think it sums up 4-H perfectly.  “4-H isn’t just about showing livestock.  It's about kids learning to become self sufficient to grow into tomorrow's leaders.”  Wow!  Think about that the next time you go to a local fair.  Those kids decided on a project (some of them very large) and saw it through to the end.  They didn’t get discouraged when things didn’t go right, they adapted, they changed their plans and they saw the project through to the end.

One of our oldest club members.  He graduated this year and the boys will miss his leadership in the club (we have lots of girls and not too many boys right now).

Our club had some amazing projects at the fair that were not in the livestock barns.  Our club had some amazing photographs that placed really well.  I took photography when I was in 4-H.  My leader taught me about the rule of thirds, how to crop pictures, how to mount them properly and lots of things I am sure I have forgotten.  I do know that I take better pictures than my brother who did not take photography as a project though.

These boys made pajama pants, a vest and shorts for judging.  They were judged on how well the outfits fit as well as their ability to construct the garments.

My sons, as well as several other boys, learned how to sew this year.  The Farmer told him that is was important to learn how to sew, because someday your wife might be running late and need a button sewed on.  He went on that if he could sew the button he could keep them from being late.  The 4-H’er was not amused, but did finish some stylish pajama pants.

The top 3 Senior Girls in the modeling competition.  My boys love all three of these girls and they are willing to help them whenever they can.

We attended the 4-H Style Review last week.  This is an event that I hated as a kid-I usually received a red ribbon for my clothing choices, but looking back I realized a learned a lot about buying quality clothing and how things should fit properly.  As a mom, I think every kid should be in this project, because we have to buy them clothes anyway and you have to get up and get dressed every day so you might as well know how to dress for success and look good.

Grand Champion Level I Foods were the Cinnamon Roll Muffins made by my little 4-H'er.  He also worked days on the lower Mallard Duck Cake for the Decorated Food Contest.

Another project I think that all kids should take is foods and nutrition.  All of us need to eat every day and it has occurred to me that fewer people cook at home and rely on higher fat and higher sodium foods of the restaurant world.  My 9 year old son can read a recipe, measure properly, and bake his own food with amazing ease.  One of my friends reminded me that cooking is just a science experiment with edible results.  

This piece was beautiful.  Her persistence in getting it done really paid off.

One of our club members made this amazing quilted piece this winter.  It was definitely one of those projects that took some determination to get finished.  Her mother told me that she had at least 43 hours in this project.  Wow!

Geology is one of those projects that most of the parents learn right along side the kids.  In many families,  becomes a a whole family project

There are lots of other science based projects in 4-H.  They include Geology, Entomology, Forestry, Rocketry, Astronomy, Robotics, and Wildlife to name a few.  There are also projects for Food Preservation in which the kids learn how to can and dehydrate foods.  This project had more entries and even my 4-H’er would like to can some pickles and jelly next year.

The kids learn all year long and exhibit at the county fair to show what they have been doing.  In fact, my 4-H’er had projects that were started over Christmas break!    I do think that the most important thing they learn is how to get along and help one another.  I love to walk by and see an older 4-H’er clipping a Bucket Calf or helping get a lamb set just right.  I even witnessed a few younger 4-H’ers teaching an older 4-H’er a thing or two about showing.
We have great 4-H “family” that we wouldn’t trade for anything in the world.  I think my youngest had about 15 teenage brothers and sisters looking after him at the county fair.  I even had one tell me that his belt was crooked, so he fixed it for him.  WOW!   I didn’t even know the boy knew who my son was let alone care that he didn’t look proper.  I love kids that care how they look!  If you are one of our new extended family, THANK YOU! 

The 4-H’er found boys his age that love showing cattle as much as he does.  They had a great time helping him walk and wash his calves after theirs were finished.  Only kids that love showing do something like that. 

As you can tell, I love 4-H.  I love the kids that are in it-some maybe not as much as others, but they all have their good and bad points.  I love 4-H parents, they will sit in 110 degree heat with you even if they don’t have kids showing, just to support them.  Most of all, I love 4-H grandparents.  They don’t care who wins because they know we all winning in this program.  

Have a great week everyone!

-A Kansas Farm Mom

PS If you would like to see more pictures from our county fair, go to the Montgomery County Chronicle Facebook page.  They have a person who is willing to sit in the heat with the rest of us crazy 4-H parents to get pictures immediately after the champions are named.  Those smiles can't be duplicated and we love this newspaper for their service to the community.