4-H. When most people hear the words they know what I'm talking about... most of them. For others, they have no idea what I am saying. But for me, 4-H means more than just head, heart, hands, and health.
I would be nowhere without 4-H. Really, I would not be the person I am, attending the college I'm at, living where I live, or even pursuing the career that I want today if not for 4-H.
Growing up I was a pretty shy girl. If you met me today you would never even imagine that I had used to be terrified to talk in public, to answer a question in class or to even speak to extended family that I saw at major holidays.
4-H isn't just about showing livestock at the county fair, though that is great, it's about developing youth to be responsible, confident and self-assured. My first big step into 4-H was a project talk about my cat Captain that I did at a County Club Days event.
County Club Days are events held in the winter that allows 4-Hers to compete in different categories such as project talks, demonstrations, illustrated talks, skits, dances, readings and so much more.
I didn't want my project talk to be boring so I opened with a joke. My cat Captain was actually an extremely mean cat so I said this phrase, "Most houses have a sign that says 'Beware of dog,' well mine should say 'beware of cat.'"
That line got an immediate laughing response from both the judge and the audience in the room watching me. At that moment I wasn't nervous anymore, just excited that I could tell these people about my cat. I got top blue at the county level and competed at regional club days later that month.
I remember that talk so clearly that even to this day and could probably recite it to you effortlessly (if I still had my little poster with pictures). But I remember that moment so well because it was the turning point in myself as a person, and in my membership as a 4-Her.
From that day it was me coming out of my shell. I started doing skits and more project talks. Presentations at club meetings and taking a junior officer positions until I became club and council President.
My slow stair step process from shy to outgoing was more like a rocket launching into outer space: full blast!! I completely and totally give the credit to 4-H for bringing me out of my shy shell. Though it was more like it brought me out of my shell and then I threw that shell off a cliff (a joke I use quite often when people deny that I was ever shy in my lifetime).
4-H has educated me to love agriculture and cherish what it provides for our world. It has taught me that a complete stranger at the beginning of 4-H camp could be someone I stay in contact with even 10 years later. 4-H taught me that you can be anything as long as you try.
4-H brought me to Kansas State University and to the Agricultural Communications major. If not for 4-H I DEFINITELY would not have chosen a communications degree (because how would I talk to people?) 4-H brought me to Alpha of Clovia, a 4-H cooperative leadership house for girls at K-State. This further expressed to me that 4-H has not only had a huge impact on my life, but so many others.
That is why I want to be an extension agent. I want to be apart of a child's growth through 4-H. I want to be there to watch them evolve and change as a person and grow into the potential I know they have.
Though I am now considered alumni, I am still actively involved in 4-H. Though I am not competing in the events I used to do (horse shows, pet, project talks, etc.), instead I am judging them and I LOVE IT!!!
I love judging shows for 4-H members and helping them grow throughout their lives. Whether it be through gaining better control of their horse or learning a few new tips and tricks to not be nervous when they give their first project talk.
I love giving back to the next generation in an organization that has meant so much to me and impacted my life so largely.
I will never stop promoting 4-H and everything that it stands for. My story isn't the only one of its kind. I have met so many people who have changed just as much as me.
Though my mom hopes and asks constantly where that shy little girl is, I can tell her that she is gone and ever coming back. 4-H has changed my life for the better and I would be nothing without it.