Saturday, November 24, 2012

Touched by 4-H—Day 24 of a Town Girl Touched by the Farming Life

            When I joined 4-H in about the 5th or 6th grade, I had no idea that most people believed this organization touched only families that farmed.  I did not live on a farm or have animals—well, no livestock animals.  Amusing to me now, but when I went to my first 4-H Fair, I thought it was strange for people to bring cattle, sheep, and hogs.  I thought it was all about sewing, cooking, and a few other things.  Obviously, my Gold Mound 4-H group was full of youth who lived in town.  I realized later that some lived in the country, but I thought that was a fluke.  Maybe my observation (or thinking) skills as a child were just underdeveloped.

            Despite my early misunderstanding of the relationship of 4-H and the farm lifestyle, my children learned about this relationship at the beginning of their 4-H careers.  Their 4-H club probably has more members that live on farms than live in town, but they blend well together as a group.  It was in this environment that Daughter S began her 4-H career, following in the footsteps of her older sisters. 

            However, I guess my observation (or thinking) skills have not improved much with age, at least not when it comes to 4-H, because it was not until last year that I realized the purpose of some of the paperwork the girls filled out at the end of each 4-H season.  That is when Daughter S  learned that a couple of friends, who were members of different 4-H clubs in different counties, had been awarded the 4-H National Congress award and had gone (or were going) to Atlanta, Georgia.  She then began talking to our county's extension 4-H leaders to get more information.  In short, the process was long and time consuming, and Daughter S wonders if she could have made it through the whole process without the encouragement and coaching from Tessa and Velynna.  Although I agree their advice was priceless, I also know their help was not a guarantee she would win this honor.  She truly earned this award/experience.  Thankfully, she has a better awareness and ethic work when it comes to 4-H than I had.

            That brings us to yesterday morning and our travels among the Black Friday shoppers on our way to the airport.  My husband, Daughter S, and I arrived at the airport lobby before anyone else from their traveling party.  In fact, only one person total was in our sight.  We watched several airport personnel file past us as they reported for work.  Then a couple of young ladies with the parents of one arrived.  They seemed like sweet girls, and one of them, we later learned, was to be our daughter's roommate.  Shortly after, the place started to come alive with employees behind counters and travelers gathering in lines.  We stayed until her group made it through security.  I could not help but smile, and maybe giggle a little, while I saw tub after tub with brown cowboy boots travel down the conveyor belt.  Well, actually, only 13 Illinois participants and 2 chaperons shipped out from this terminal (while 8 others left from O'Hare), and not all were wearing cowboy boots.  Even so, I doubt the airport TSA officers get that many sets of cowboy boots at one time very often, including Black Friday.

            Despite all those cowboy boots indicating that the 4-H organization has definitely touched the lives of numerous farming families, it also touches town families positively regarding character development as well as skill development.

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