Tag Archives: 4-H

To Make the Best Better

image courtesy texas A&M Ag Extension

 

“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”

That is the pledge that I took every Tuesday night in the basement of a small community church, right after saying the Pledge of Allegiance.  Those are the words of the 4-H Pledge and saying them now to myself while I type this up means a whole heck of a lot more to me, than when I said them all those years ago.

It’s been twenty years now since I first joined 4-H, with the Broadkill Kool Kats gathered in that little church in Milton, Delaware.  It’s been ten years since I’ve been active in any 4-H events at all.  But I can still remember that pledge, and holding my fingers to my head, heart, outstretched in front of me, and then to my sides every week.

When I first joined 4-H, it was mostly because my parents wanted to get me into something extra curricular, but I refused to join the Girl Scouts.  Don’t get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with being a Brownie or a Girl Scout.  But for me, there was one major flaw.  No boys.  I had grown up surrounded by guys, and in that turn I found them easier to befriend, the thought of being in a group with a bunch of girls mortified me.  In some ways, it still does.

I didn’t appreciate back then, the good that 4-H did for me.  Even when I was leaving the organization upon turning eighteen, I still had not quite grasped just how important it all had been in shaping who I am today.  In giving me the outlook on life that I have currently.

Everything started on a personal level, with project books every year. I hardly ever finished mine, but that didn’t mean that they weren’t useful.  Everything from animal care to geneaology was offered and I had friends who raised chickens, sheep, and pigs, while I worked on sewing projects and making bread.  As a whole for the County we put on Horse shows for local equestrian enthusiasts and students, we cleaned up beaches of trash and filth, we had nights of food tastings and competitions, including my favourite event where each participant chose a country and made a traditional food from that nation.  Everything was geared towards helping children to learn.  To become better adults in their later years.

And what happens during that awkward transition time, when you change from being a child to being an adolescent? That horribly painful time when your body doesn’t work right, everything is changing and nobody is nice to anybody else?  In 4-H, you become a Junior Leader, and you get responsibilities.  While other places are unsure of how to treat adolescents who are trying to become young adults, 4-H is there with the answer, treat them like young adults.

We were given classes on inclusion, very basic psychology, life saving measures including basic first aid and CPR certification.  And we were entrusted with the care and oversight of other children.  We became camp counsellors, the people that you drop your kids off to in the morning and pick up in the afternoon in the middle of summer.  As Junior Leaders, we were given the trust that we could handle these other kids, and the confidence in ourselves to make the program on our own.  There was adult supervision, always, but only for emergencies.  Everything else was handled by the Junior Leaders.

And we handled it just fine.  With responsibility comes Maturity, and with maturity comes something else.  Some other attribute that is hard to place, but is nonetheless knowable to others.   Being in 4-H, while I didn’t realize it back then, and it has taken me several years to open my eyes on it now, has not only made me who I am today, but has enabled me to make it to today.

I am getting ready to turn thirty years old.  I’ve hit a lot of bumps in my adult life, but I’ve always seemed to bounce back from them, somehow.  Currently, I am living in New Zealand and starting my life over again.  I have found myself repeatedly typing the same words while looking and applying for a job down here.  I want to have a positive impact on my community.

I no longer want a job just for myself or for the money.  I want a career that will mean something to somebody else.  A position that will help myself move forward, of course, but will also serve the greater good, the better purpose.  And up until recently, it just made sense, that was how I was.  But then a friend’s son started getting bullied at school and she was looking for something to help him with his self esteem.  I immediately suggested signing him up for 4-H.  And I made a very bold statement in doing so, I quite honestly told her that 4-H had saved my life.

It seemed so out of the blue, and yet, it was true. I owe my life to 4-H, both the organization, my County, and my Club.  My fellow members, my Leaders and Junior Leaders, all of them helped to make sure that I not only survived the living hell that was adolescence, but also have helped to shape me into the adult that I have become.

Without the sense of community, trust, and leadership skills that I learned and picked up during my time with 4-H, I am not certain how I would have made it this far, and I know that I will rely on those skills, those teaching moments to move myself, my community, my country (both of them), and my world further to make them stronger, safer, happier places.

I don’t owe everything of who I am now to this Organization, but I owe enough of myself to say thank you.  And to eagerly, heartily, and readily recommend to anybody with children that 4-H is one of the best options out there to help your child through a difficult time.  They will find friendships, they will find laughter, and they will come away from it all knowing that they can make the world a better place.

-Sarah K

Broadkill Kool Kats, Sussex County 4-H, Delaware, USA

1990-1999

Advertisements

Bullying

I’m probably not going to make any friends with this post.  you’ve been warned, there are some rather strong opinions to follow.  If you feel in any way that you might possibly be offended, stop reading.  Now.

 

The interwebs are on fire. the tubes burning up in the middle of the night. There was a kid, he got bullied, and he fought back. The kid is a hero! the kid is amazing! More kids should do this! Wait, he got suspended?  HORROR! OUTRAGE! He was only defending himself!  How can you suspend a kid for that?

 

ok. there’s a few topics here for discussion.  One, could be the overall topic of Bullying which to be honest, I don’t have enough epaper for at this moment.   Two, could be this particular situation, which seems to be getting far too much attention.  Three, a combination of the two.  Sounds good.  Let’s go with that.

 

Bullying.  Yes. It’s a problem.  guess what.  It always has been. What’s the big difference now?  As with many things in our society, information.  Kids have cellphones now. Cellphones that can take pictures. and video.  they can document their cruelty for everybody to see.  As opposed to only talking about it in the gym locker room.  They can show the world how cool they are, instead of having to relive the memories with their buddies over the weekends, taking secret shots from their dad’s liquor cabinet and sitting on the trampoline.

 

There’s no difference between the bullying happening now and the bullying that happened when I was growing up.  I was that kids age once. I was fat. I was the new kid in school. I was Jewish. No, there was never any physical bullying done to me. I was never kicked, or punched, smacked around.  Was I backed into corners? Yes.  Was I pointed at, talked about, made fun of, harassed? Yes.  Did this happen from 3rd grade all the way up to high school? yes.

 

Kids are, apparently, a lot more physical in their bullying these days.  But it doesn’t change the fact that verbal abuse by your peers is still bullying.  And it still hurts. And it still leaves scars.  Both physical and mental.

 

Having to change in the bathroom after Phys Ed because your body was fat and everybody would point it out to you, that’s damaging.  Your breasts developing before others because you were larger? And having people notice? that’s hurtful.  I wore my first pair of jeans in the 9th grade.  Why? Because nobody made jeans to fit fat kids like me.  I went through the whole of middle school the dumpy fat kid in sweats.  And if you think i didn’t hear the whispers, the jokes, the laughter and I didn’t see the fingers pointing, you’re wrong.

 

I saw them.  I felt them.  Every single last one of them.  You didn’t have to actually punch me in the stomach, your words were enough to do damage.

 

so yes, before you go and get all hyper-actively self defensive, yes,there was bullying when we were kids.  Yes, teasing can be bullying.  No, there’s no easy way to deal with it.

 

I could have turned around and been nasty back. I could have said things about you, but that wasn’t worth my time.  My self-esteem was so low by that point that just getting through the school day without crying was an accomplishment.    Life was miserable. Everything was hateful. I hated everybody and everything.  Mostly myself.

 

But then, the confidence started to grow.  I got involved in things outside of school. Outside of the group of people that were so petty they couldn’t see their noses from their faces.  4-H saved my life.

 

I’ll say that again.

 

4-H saved my life.  Responsibility as a camp counselor, instilling values of kindness, acceptance, and responsibility into other kids? Rewarding.  One week every summer where I was away from everything at camp and had people that cared about me.  Looked out for me.  And weren’t cruel.  It’s astounding what that program did for me.

 

4-H was the perfect answer to my lack of confidence, a fantastic supplement to a great friend,who had been with me the entire way through.  But that’s a whole other story.  For another day.  I’ll just put this here now. 4-H and Shaun saved my life. Multiple times.

 

 

Now, that we have that statement done.  yes, there was bullying when we were kids. Yes, it was mean, spiteful, hateful, and horrible.  But no, not as many people were aware of it.  We didn’t all have video cameras in our pockets.  Or over protective parents and teachers.  For the most part, you had to fend for yourself.  Survive or don’t.  Welcome to the Island.

 

There’s a memory I have from High school, I think I was a senior or junior and this little freshman decided that the fat girl was going to be the perfect target.  He started with words, and then moved onto some light physical contact, throwing little punches in my direction and asking, goading, me about what i was going to do about it.

 

I turned to the little brat and told him in point blank terms that I was a straight A student, a senior, and that every teacher in the school at least knew my name and I’d never been in trouble before.  He was a freshman, had no backing, and was messing with somebody who did. To put it frankly, “Who are they going to believe more, me or you?”

 

Brat backed off.  Never had another problem.  High school was when most of the bullying stopped.  We had all grown up and most of us had gotten over it.  Most of us.  There were still times when it happened, but they were few, far between, and swiftly handled.

 

Now, I’m certain that I have hit your limit of caring at this point.  So, I will post a bit later about my opinions on the boy who is at the center of all this.

 

I will sum this up though.  Bullying happens.  It has always happened and it will continue to happen. Your child is not a special snowflake.  They’re a child that has to make it through this hell like everybody else had to.  trial by fire.  Middle School is living hell.  And anybody who says differently is an idiot.  You either get out of it stronger, or you don’t.

 

But you make it out and then life is on the other side.  And life is good. To steal and or borrow from another campaign out there.

 

It gets better.