“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.”
– The 4-H Club Pledge
Growing up I was a little bit on the shy side. Difficult to believe now, I know. But I was.
Even though shy and being educated at home, I was very involved in several activities outside of a traditional school setting.
During the summer/fall, my parents would sign me up for the local basketball leagues and basketball camps. It was fun being a part of the team and hanging out with friends.
I sang at church on Sundays with my three other sisters. Looking back, I’m not sure I should have, I can’t carry a tune in a bucket – but it was cute then, right? At least it taught me courage and confidence.
I played soccer for all of one season. I still don’t know the rules and why anyone would want to do all that running? Mind boggling…
The Glory Riders, a Christian horse drill team, played a huge role in my childhood and adolescence. I traveled with them all over the country performing at various rodeos. This was pretty darn cool. I loved every minute of it.
And the list could go on… But my true passion? Horses!
I wanted to show horses. My grandma taught me to ride at the age of six and I fell in love with the sport. My first saddle was an English saddle and the event I practiced most was dressage. However, where we lived there weren’t a whole lot of dressage events happening. That is when I decided to join 4-H. I was 12 at the time and had never rode in a western saddle. So of course my grandparents bought me a western saddle so I could participate in all the events.
The 4-H program gave me the opportunity to grow as an equestrian, meet new friends, develop leadership qualities, showed me work ethic and taught me how to develop my talents.
One of the best memories I have as a 4-H’er was when I was nominated by my local club to compete in the 4-H Queen Contest. Lord knows I wasn’t ready for this. This girl was a tomboy and didn’t quite care for dresses, but I put my big pants on, rather big girl dress on and participated.
Never in my wildest dreams did I think I even had a chance at winning.
My mom made my dress, which was a beautiful pale yellow, floor length, A-line dress that fit me perfectly.
But more than just twirling around in a pretty dress, the contest included a question and answer session that my Mom was apparently concerned about (and rightfully so) as she filled a bucket with handwritten questions on slips of folded up paper to help me practice.
I would pick out a question, read it quickly and blurt out an answer. Most of my answers were pretty off the mark and of course I always had to throw in a little humor. This was slightly frowned upon by mother… lol. I still laugh about it today.
My mom gave me some advice the day of the contest. She said, “Reach in the bucket and pick out your question. Read it SLOWLY. THINK about it before you blurt out an answer.”
The night of the competition I got all fancied up and did a few little turns and twirls on stage. I didn’t fall, so I’d say that was a success.
Next was the Q&A.
I am pretty sure my mom was turning blue in her chair from holding her breath in anticipation and possibly extreme nerves.
I reached in. Got my question. Smiled. And answered.
The question: What is your favorite holiday and why?
My answer: Christmas because that is when Jesus was born. Thank you.
And that was that. I smiled again and went back in line.
I could hear my mom let out her breath!
For a girl that was only 12 years old, homeschooled, and a little on the shy side, I thought I did a pretty good job! I also happened to win!
Even though having the title of 4-H Queen was pretty cool, I will never forget the memories I created while participating in 4-H.
Thank you 4-H for giving me the opportunities to learn and grow as a person.
4-H is an amazing program and if your child is not involved you should highly consider it! Even as an adult 4-H continues to support me by selling my books, “Rosie the Pig” in their online 4-H shop. You should go check it out!