"I pledge my head to clearer thinking, my heart to greater loyalty, my hands to larger service, and my health to better living, for my club, my community, my country and my world."
If you were a long-term 4H member, this pledge still probably rolls right off your lounge. Perhaps, it takes you back you week night 4H meetings where you stood and awkwardly mumbled it in a room filled with kids from 3rd grade to seniors in high school. Only a few of the kids in that room will complete the full 10 years of 4H.
When you were in 4H, you sometimes treated it like a winter coat; you didn’t pay much attention to it till it was in season. It often came second to school, sports and your other extracurricular activities. Depending on where you lived, you probably had a difficult time explaining to your non-4H friends what 4H was and why you do it. Despite the neglect you might have shown your 4H at times, you’re glad you stuck it out till the end. In fact, you’re probably gladder now than you were years ago the moment you received your 10yr member pin. When you look back, you begin to realize why 4H is important and what it has given you.
For one, you now can comprehend how imperative youth programs such as 4H, boy scouts, and girl scouts really are. Education is vital to society, sports build teach teamwork and perseverance but, neither really teach you how to be a respectable American citizen quite like these organizations do. From 4H you begin to realize the value of community. Strong communities are the core of a stronger state and country. Hence, “my club, my community, my country and my world.”
A 4Her knows that the fair is way more than rides and fried food. It’s a celebration of a long week of judging and a longer month and more of getting your projects, crops or livestock ready. All those projects people quickly glance required hours of work and paperwork. The animals at the fair are not a petting zoo; they are an outcome of hot, sweaty labor and high responsibility. Furthermore, each 4Her stood in front of a judge to explain their project and answer questions on the fly. Through 4H, you start practicing for job interviews when you’re in 3rd grade.
Many people think 4H is something only farmers and country folk do. That’s not entirely true; however, it is agriculturally based and that’s very important. Farming is not a career most youth want to get into these days. Agriculture is barely mentioned in schools; yet, it is one of the most vital industries for our well-being. Food does not come from grocery stores; it is grown on a farm by a farmer who has to depend on the land to make a living. Farming is science, economics, business and engineering. Not all 4Hers are farmers; nevertheless, they all understand how farming is a profession worthy of high respect.
4H teaches you how to do things that most people have to pay to do. You learn how to construct, cook, grow craft, repair, build, imagine and lead. If something breaks, you know how to fix it or you have a friend who can help you. A 4Her’s first instinct is to take matters into their own hands or learn how to solve them so they can continue being independent. Therefore, they become the go-to person for friends and family when help is needed. They gladly extend a helping hand because they take pride in their ability to use their skills in a constructive way.
Schools educate, churches instill values, sports train the body and mind but, organizations like 4H teach youth what it means to be an active community member. In a society that that is constantly getting confused on what it stands for, these youth programs are more important now than ever. If we had more 4Hers, maybe we would have more people who can take care of themselves and the people around them. More people would say “I can do that” or “I can figure it out.” This is the attitude 4H embodies and I am so thankful I learned to be this way and can now share it with you.