Hey, everyone. So I know I’ve posted a lot about 4-H lately… well, tonight I’m writing about it again. And then this will be the last 4-H post for, um, probably a very long time? I have no idea when I’ll write about it again, but I really really want to post something about it tonight, so I will.
Tonight my parents and I are attending an awards ceremony for ten-year members such as myself. I can’t believe that my 4-H years are drawing to a close – it seems as though just the other day, I was a tiny first-year! Where did the time go?!
Tonight, it seems fitting to post a list of my top ten 4-H experiences. So here it is!
1. Visiting the county fair as an official 4-H member for the very first time
I’d been to the fair before, of course – and participated in the Exploring 4-H program during the previous year – but it was so cool to finally be a REAL 4-HER and see my projects in the exhibit hall! I still remember tearing open my first gigantic envelope of ribbons (which we receive at the end of the fair each year), and oohing and aahing at all the bright colors that I’d earned.
2. Attending 4-H camp
This experience stands out to me for two reasons: It was the first time I’d ever spent the night away from home without any parents/relatives, so that was mildly scary.
Also, I had my first crush on a girl – one of the counselors – at that camp, so that was confusing and unexpected and weird. (I was like WAIT HOW IS THIS HAPPENING CRUSHES DON’T EVEN WORK THAT WAY because no one had ever explained to me that girls can like other girls…) So, yeah. That experience was interesting, to say the least.
3. Attending Indiana 4-H Round-Up at Purdue University
Round-Up is a statewide three-day program for middle schoolers, designed to teach us about careers and college and STUFF. And… sure, I learned a lot from that experience, but most importantly, I met one of my best friends there! After Round-Up, Kate and I became penpals, and she’s visited twice in the years since we first met. YAY FOR FRIENDSHIP.
4. Traveling to our nation’s capital for Citizenship Washington Focus
This was my FAVORITE 4-H experience! This week-long program is about history, government, citizenship, et cetera and IT. IS. AWESOME. Ahhhhhh, words cannot describe how much I loved this trip – if you have a chance to go, you definitely should!
5. Competing in Battle of the Barns for the first time
Battle of the Barns is a series of athletic challenges (relay races, tug of war, et cetera) between the eight 4-H barns: Horse & Pony, Beef, Dairy, Rabbits, Swine, Goats, Sheep, and the main 4-H exhibit hall. It’s held on the last night of the fair – I’m headed there tonight after dinner, actually. This is my third year in the competition, and it’s been so much fun each year! I wish I’d joined earlier!
6. ACTUALLY WINNING SOME AWARDS FOR MY PHOTOGRAPHY
Soooo, the Photography project is ridiculously competitive – almost three hundred exhibits are entered each year! For the first few years, I wanted decent scores, but I wanted to be THE BEST… well, eventually I win “best of show” for color photography in my grade during my freshman, sophomore, and senior years!
7. Winning second place in Creative Writing… two years in a row!
This was SO exciting and SO validating! I’m planning to double-major in creative writing and journalism, so winning these awards made me feel much more reassured about my career choices!
8. Helping with my county’s inaugural 4-H race
I’m in Junior Leaders, and we organized this event in order to raise money for our community service projects. I served on the planning committee, and was one of the official photographers during the race. The event ran so smoothly and it was amazing to see how all our hard work really paid off!
9. Serving as the president of my local 4-H club
This was so much fun… yet also sometimes terrifying! There was so much to learn, and so much responsibility. Knowing that younger members looked up to me was SO WEIRD, because half the time I had no idea what I was doing.
10. Representing 4-H as one of my county’s Achievement Ambassadors
4-H doesn’t really have ranks but if it did, the Ambassadors would be at the very top. Although I’ve spent the past week representing 4-H, the surreal feeling still hasn’t gone away: When I was a little kid, I looked up to the Ambassadors, and it’s beyond weird to think that I’m one of them now.
How can I possibly describe everything that 4-H means to me? Like, seriously. I’ve spent ten years in this program (and one year as an Explorer), and devoted so much time to it.
4-H gave me many opportunities to compete. The schools in my area don’t allow homeschoolers to participate in any of their extracurricular activities, so I’m very thankful that through 4-H, I was able to take part in various forms of competitions and workshops. It was cool to hear advice/comments from people other than my parents, too – it’s always interesting to see what the judges thought of my projects.
4-H educated me: There’s so much I still don’t know, obviously, but 4-H provided an excellent foundation. I still have so much to learn about photography, for example, but 4-H gave me so much practice and really helped me improve.
4-H has given me so many things over the past decade: Leadership abilities, communication skills, travel opportunities, community service activities, mentors, public speaking skills, career advice, SCHOLARSHIPS, awards, friends, and laughter.
And a truly ridiculous number of T-shirts. SERIOUSLY. I have probably 15 or 20 T-shirts from various 4-H events over the years. IT’S RIDICULOUS. I got another T-shirt tonight, in fact…
I will sincerely miss this program.
THANKS FOR ALL THAT YOU’VE DONE FOR ME, 4-H.