Why 4-H?

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.

4-H Mission

4-H empowers youth to reach their full potential, working and learning in partnership with caring adults. 
4-H Vision
A world in which youth and adults learn, grow and work together as catalysts for positive change.  

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18 comments on “Why 4-H?

  1. Not sure if this is still the case, but the other great thing about 4-H is that even a city kid without animals can be involved. I always loved horses and had one when I was very young and again as a teenager, but there was a time in between when we were not able afford one. I joined the horse club with the local 4-H and it gave me the opportunity to be around horses, do some riding, and I even got to show a friend's 2 year old in a halter class (all the children in that family were showing other animals & they wanted the horse to have some show experience so it was a win win). I'm looking forward to getting my kids involved even more than I was…my almost 4 year old can't wait to get old enough to start showing our LaMancha goats!

    • Yes, Ginger. They can show animals that they do not own. It is a great opportunity for city kids to take on that responsibility of caring for the animal and training it.

      My kids show LaManchas too! Don't ya just love them!

  2. Yes, it is great for the town kids! Animal projects are not required, there are many project areas to choose from! :o) Many of the projects they complete in school can be entered as a project at the fair. 4H is so flexible. I was in 4H growing up and 2 of my kids are Clover Kids right now. My youngest is 4, so he has a couple of years to wait. They all love it. The animal projects help the kids get involved more at home, too. They have to keep records of feed, care, and costs of it all, so that gives them more perspective and responsibility at home. My niece is a "real" 4Her this year so she is showing one of our horses at fair, I can't wait :o) Thanks for the great post!

    • Yes, there is a lot of flexibility, Jen! It would be hard to not find something that a child is interested in with all of the projects they have.

      It is such a wonderful program! Thanks for sharing!

  3. We have been a 4H family since our oldest was in third grade. The benefits and blessings learned will last a lifetime and carry over in to so many areas of their adult life. My children are now aging out and heading off to college, but we will always treasure the years of projects and fairs!

    • My mom is still happily volunteering her time to help us out with 4-H! I was a ten year member and had such good memories, and now I am so happy to pass on the 4-H tradition to my kids. Such a great opportunity for them!

      Thank you for sharing!

    • Thanks, Rhonda! We have such a good time! It's hard work and with all of the projects my kids are in, it gets a little hectic, but is so worth it! Fair week seems to rejuvenate us in thinking how much the work has paid off, even if they don't win;)

  4. I am the local club leader for our group here in town. Its a lot of fun and I have a great group of kids. This group had almost disappeared but we are back up to 14 kids and I have some great parents too. My girls show goats, rabbits, chickens, Art, photography and this year maybe some garden produce or flowers.. Depending on what is ready when its fair time.

    • Hats off to you, Tonia for keeping it going! It's sad how numbers have dropped compared to years ago, but I think that if we promote it more, parents will see how awesome it really is! Thanks for sharing!

    • Parents tend to want to drop the kids off and run off to do their thing.. But so far all the parents are very willing to dedicate a little time to the group! Its a blessing for sure!

  5. Love, Love, Love 4H! We lead a small club and really appreciate all of the opportunities 4H provides. The kids in our club are working on poultry, rabbit, photography, performing arts, camping, first aid, horse, gardening, and vet science projects. I was surprised to find out that we actually have 28 clubs in our county. Not bad for a county with absolutely no agriculture, lol!

    • Thanks, Jacqueline! It has been wonderful for them and it promotes the parents working with their children. It has it's downfalls like most do, but the benefits far outweigh the things we would like to see done a little differently. Wish we could have seen you at the FEC too!

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