4-H is an organization that played a large role in my life. I was an active 4-H member from the time I was nine until I turned 21 and aged out in 2016. When I first joined 4-H I was a very shy and awkward nine-year-old that would rather be playing with her pony in the back yard than socializing. I remember being absolutely terrified to speak in front of a room of fellow 4-Hers. It took me at least a year before I no longer turned the color of a cherry when someone looked at or spoke to me. When my mom first brought up the idea of me going to 4-H camp, I thought she had surely lost her mind.
While it may have taken me a while to warm up to the idea of being a 4-H member, it was something that changed my life. Looking back at the obstacles I faced when I was younger I don’t know if I would have been able to conquer them if it wasn’t for 4-H making me face my fears. I am now the complete opposite of the person I was in my first few years as a 4-H member. While this isn’t a complete list by any means, here are the top 5 things that I owe a thanks to the 4-H organization for:
1. Finding forever friends
Through 4-H camping one week every year from the time I was nine until I was twenty-one I found my forever friends. We could go an entire year when we were younger not speaking to each other and then pick right back up where we left off when camping season rolled around. To this day I am still best friends with Joey and Cedrice who were the first real friends I met at camp when I was nine. Our lives may be going in three separate directions and there may be over a thousand miles between us (sorry guys), but I know whenever I need them they are there. When people say 4-H friends are forever they are 100% right.
2. Always having a “home” to come back to
I know that no matter how far away my life leads me I will always have a home to come back to. Home is more than just a place. Home is having people who love and care about you there to support you. 4-H has given me this since of security in knowing that I always have a place and people to come back to.
3. Teaching me to love and appreciate giving back
From the very beginning of my 4-H career I was taught the value of service and how important it was to give back to others. As soon as I was old enough to start counseling 4-H camp for the younger members I did because I knew how important it was to me and how much I gained from the experience. Volunteering a week out of the year to make someone elses week extra special became more important to me than going to camp myself as a camper. I hope to continue being a volunteer for organizations such as 4-H. Not only is it important to the people you are helping, but I have found that helping others helps me grow and become a better person as well.
4. Making me into the leader I am today
While I have always been known for my roles as a leader, it never really started until 4-H. When I was first voted in as the club secretary I was terrified that someone messed up counting the ballets. Now I generally take leadership opportunities with pleasure. I love sharing my knowledge and strengths with others and watching them grow and reach their goals. This will be a huge benefit to me in my future career in the feed industry.
5. Allowing me to be a kid again
Being an adult can be a lot to handle. In most settings it is expected for an adult to be professional and serious all the time. 4-H allows me to come back, relax, and enjoy the little
things in life that we often don’t appreciate as much when we grow older. Every time I step into a role that has me working with 4-Hers I am overcome with happiness because it makes me enjoy the little things, just like being a kid again.