Head, heart, hands, health. These four H's played a huge role in my life growing up. If you're not familiar with them, they're the four H's that make up 4-H, one of the largest youth organizations in the country. I was blessed enough to spend twelve years as a 4-H member and my time with the green clover had a huge impact on my life. After all these years I believe a thank you is in order to the organization that made me.
Thank you for the memories.
The more I look back, the more I realize so many of my fondest memories growing up revolve around 4-H. Instead of "This one time at band camp" for me and many of my closest friends it's "This one time at 4-H camp". Whether it be at camp, the county fair, leadership conferences or anything in between, my 4-H memories are some I'll never forget.
Thank you for helping me learn to be responsible.
One of the biggest lessons I learned in 4-H was how to be responsible. I had livestock that needed to be taken care of, work that I volunteered to do and I was an officer in several clubs. My animals relied on me for food, water, and other basic care. My club relied on me to help lead or guide them, to keep track of minutes and to budget as well as many other things. It made me mature and grow up but I never even realized it til I was done.
Thank you for teaching me time management.
"I can't, I have 4-H," was a common phrase heard out of my mouth whenever people asked me to do things, especially during high school as I became more and more involved. I had to learn to balance out school, meetings, projects, homework, county fairs, camps, sports, various trips, family, and what often felt like so much more. I had to make sacrifices to be able to do everything I wanted, and sometimes that meant turning down that movie invitation or basketball game, but it was always worth it.
Thank you for giving me positive role models.
Everyone needs a role model and many of mine have also sported the green and white. As a kid, my role models were my club officers and my camp counselors who seemed so cool. As I started becoming more involved with the older youth programs I looked up to the older members and advisors. Even, today, when I'm asked who my biggest role models are I always respond with Hannah, my county extension agent turned state specialist. She and the other people I've looked up to have had a huge part in me becoming the person I am now.
Thank you for letting me become the role model.
One of my favorite parts of 4-H was working with little kids and younger members. I'll never forget the first time I helped a new member with her sewing project and her mother said, "She really looks up to you." I always wanted to be a positive impact on others lives and 4-H gave me the opportunity to do so.
Thank you for giving me a second family.
I say, family, not just friends because they truly became family. Words can't describe my love for the people I worked so closely with. My 4-H family was always there with open arms, helping hands, loving hearts and in true 4-H fashion, plenty of food. My friends that I made during my years as a member have become some of my very closest and I know I'll have these people for the rest of my life.
Thank you for making me into the person I am today.
I simply wouldn't be the person I am today without my time as a 4-Her.
I owe a lot to the green clover. It's given me countless friends, memories and life lessons. Tonight I'll thank God twice for all of the many things that He and 4-H have given me.