Ahhhhh, the joys of 4-H! My son, pictured above, clearly is enjoying one of his glory moments! You know, I will have three of my children in 4-H this year! You might think I'm just a glutton for punishment, but the kids and I look forward to it every year! This time will be extra special, because my nine year old will finally get to be in "real" 4-H! They all will show goats, dogs and horses, along with various other projects like sewing, legos, photography and of course, gardening!
So, what is the big deal about 4-H?
First of all, there is no other program like it. The emphasis on agriculture is strong, even to this day. The emphasis on the youth getting involved is huge as well. 4-H is all about working with our children, teaching them responsibility, learning how to win and lose and how to speak under pressure at times. 4-H gives the children and young adults a chance to reap the rewards of their hard work.
Sometimes they might not win, even if they put more effort in to it than others. But, that is called "life." They have to learn how to deal with unfair judging at times. It's bound to happen at some point in time. But, they have to learn to keep trying, to not give up and to not take it personal.
4-H keeps them busy, and knowing that they will be judged on their projects gives them that extra incentive to work hard and get it done. My daughter, below, is posing after winning in the fashion revue with her sewing project, a Renaissance dress. By-the-way, she is one to procrastinate! She seems to do better under pressure (I don't know where she gets that from;) One day, maybe she will get her projects done early? Eh, probably not!
Another good thing about 4-H is that you can be involved in as little as you want or as much as you want. We like to attend as many dog and horse practices as we can, but, not everyone likes to do this. There is usually a minimum number of practices that you have to be present for, but, it is very doable.
Showing certain animals, like horses, for instance, can be challenging, but worth it! The children have to memorize patterns in the riding and non riding classes with only a short notice of what the pattern is. Not only does this force them to remember what they read, but it teaches them to remember it under pressure! This is also similar to showing dogs in showmanship. There are a lot of particulars that they have to learn, which means they have to pay attention to whomever is instructing them at practices! My daughter, below, with her horse, Addie, are being judged while they are doing a horsemanship pattern.
I have to admit, it is pretty fun when they do win! But, it is good for them to lose sometimes too (hopefully not too much;) Humility has to be taught, and a great time for them to learn this is when they lose.
There are times when they have to interact with the judges. What a great way for them to learn how to talk to adults when they are nervous! We always teach them to look the adult in the eye while answering their questions. Speak clearly and confidently and do not be afraid to smile!
These next four pictures below are at the state fair dog show.
If you are thinking of 4-H, but are a little overwhelmed by it, I encourage you to talk to your extension educator and find out what projects they offer. Remember, your child could only do one project if he/she wanted too. Some of us have heard of stories and have seen where some parents take it overboard and buy the most expensive pig, lease the winning horse or spend thousands of dollars on a top steer. They are only hurting themselves and their children. This is not what 4-H is about and there are enough people who are just normal folks like you and me, and want what is best for their children.
Need more info? Here are the 4-H mission and vision statements below, along with the website.
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