By Katie Thomas Glick and Sarah Thomas
Every year, we know when it’s coming. We can feel it in the summer air and we prepare our schedules accordingly for a visit back home to eat our favorite taco salad and pork burger, walk the livestock barns and reminisce about old times at the Morgan County Fair!
Growing up as farm girls, it wasn’t a question if we were going to participate in 4-H or not. We were participating in 4-H because it was in our blood. Our dad was an active member of 4-H along with our uncles. The question was what were our projects going to be, and how much money could we save to buy several lemon shake-ups each day of the fair.
And while it is a place to soak up the last bits of summer with your friends, enjoy midway rides or eat some fried food, the county fair means much more to some individuals in our community. For some youth in our county, it’s about taking a pledge, having responsibility for a project or an animal and being an active member in the community. The fair is a time for 4-H members to show their projects, make memories with their friends from around the county, and play a part in shaping their future—our future. As the nation’s largest youth program, 4-H helps shape young people into responsible and active citizens.
This picture was featured in my home town newspaper back in when my Dad was an active member in 4H.
It was 1902 in Clark County, Ohio when A. B. Graham started a youth program for youth and adults to come together to learn and teach each other about agricultural practices. We now consider this the beginning of the 4-H programs in the United States. Now there are 4-H clubs serving youth members in rural, suburban, and urban settings all around the U.S. It is the nation’s largest youth program with clubs that spread over every state.
You may have found yourself walking into the fairgrounds and seeing that familiar four leaf clover with an H stitched on each leaf and thought to yourself, “What do those four Hs stand for?” When 4-H members make the decision to join a club or to be an active member in their county 4-H they take a pledge, they learn it and know it well.
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.
While you may think that to be in 4-H you have to show some kind of livestock, this is completely untrue. Many 4-H members do have livestock projects but there are many that get involved in other ways. Be sure to visit the exhibition hall at the county fairgrounds to see other projects such as: photography, baking, sewing, electrical, genealogy, gardening and much more. All the 4-H members, in all areas, work diligently on their projects whether they are in the exhibition hall or the livestock barns.
The youth participating in 4-H make a conscious decision to take a challenge and be responsible for a project and along the way learn how to better themselves and their community. Therefore, we challenge you, as a former 4-H alumni or not, to visit the projects in the buildings and the barns and to learn something to better yourself. And along the way, you will help better your community by supporting our county 4-H members.
And as you walk to get your lemon shake-up or stand in line to get your favorite fair food, you can usually spot the 4-H members with some ribbons in their back pocket. We encourage you to talk to these members and ask them about their projects. They take great pride in their hard work. The hard work that has taught them responsibility and lessons that will be with them forever and that they will use in their community—our community.
Read more about 4H on my sister, Katie’s blog, Fancy in the Country.