Monday, 12 August 2013

4-H: Head Heart Hands Health

If you've ever been in 4-H, an agriculturally based program for youth ages 9-21, you know there is a lot of work to it.  If you've ever been to university, you know there's a lot of work to that too.  If you've ever had a full time job, you know that it's time consuming. If you've ever done all three, well, kudos to you, because I don't think I could!  I have, however, been in 4-H while in school, and been in 4-H with a job, and I know that when this happens, two of the H's turn into "hard" and "half-assed," and that's not a good feeling.

For example, I was too busy with school to write a speech in time for Club Rally, so I couldn't compete and had to perform my speech at a meeting to meet that 4-H requirement.  I didn't even have time to write a proper speech, so I had to "speechify" a paper I had written about Jared Diamond.  Hey, at least it was agriculturally related!

I couldn't participate in Judging Day, another 4-H requirement, on the day it was hosted because of work.  I had to take time out of someone else's day to do it privately in the 4-H office, which I felt a little guilty about.

4-H was always something I was good at and I feel rather let down knowing I could have done better, but I was too busy to do my best.  Our club's Achievement Day, the day to display the projects we've completed over the course of the year, was last week, and I felt a little silly with my projects.  I only took the craft project this year and the three crafts I did were a crocheted Kobo cozy (which was, while free-handed, far from what I am capable of doing), a reusable calendar that I made in an evening, and a pop bottle fish made from left over supplies from my library job last summer.  The judge noted that I should aim for more challenging and age-appropriate crafts next time.

I agreed with her completely.  They were simple crafts and only done because I needed to have SOMETHING.  Every other year my projects were either something that taught me a new skill, like the year I did needle felting, or a more challenging version of a craft I could already do, such as bigger crochet projects.  There would be crafts sometimes that were "I-needed-something" crafts, but that was partially because it was often difficult to come up with three different crafts (you need a variety of crafts so you don't compete against yourself at the exhibition).

On that note, I'm considering for next year sacrificing not competing against myself in exchange for having three crafts I'm proud of.  Crocheting is something I do in my spare time anyway, 4-H or not, so I'm more likely to complete three crocheted items than three different crafts.  I'm currently working on an intricate (read, "tedious") crocheted bowl, and it is something I'd feel good about using as a 4-H project, unlike fish made out of pop bottles.

If there's one thing I learned in high school, it's that if you don't have enough time to do your best, do the best you can with what time you have.  At the very least I can say I did just that this year.


  1. I think your last paragraph really sums it up. As we grow older and take on more and more responsibilities we find that we have less and less time to designate to each of them. As adults we must learn to prioritize the more important ones and give those more time over the less important ones.

    Case in point is your job over 4-H. Your job helps pay for your schooling and other necessities in life while 4-H, though fun, does not really do much of anything to advance a person in the world. Do not get me wrong, as a past 4-Her (is that a correct word?), I believe that it is a wonderful organization for young people and people should be encouraged to join.

    In your post, you admit to using non-age appropriate crafts. At least you have the guts to admit this and work on a plan to change this. This comes back to the prioritizing. Giving yourself plenty of time and using it wisely will see you through to the goal.

    To conclude my ramble, too many people try to be perfect in everything and when they cannot, they make up excuses or attempt to shift blame. Instead they should accept "...that if you don't have enough time to do your best, do the best you can with what time you have." If everyone lived by that saying then I feel people would be happier in life because they would feel good about the work they accomplished.

    Justin, The Forklift Driver

  2. I have to disagree with you when you say 4-H "does not really do much of anything to advance a person in the world." 4-H, while not the most important thing in my life, contributes to the things that are important.

    4-H teaches young people many valuable life skills such as teamwork as well as being able to complete projects independently. It enriches social skills as it puts you in situations where you need to interact with people your own age as well as those older and younger. It teaches you to be a leader, especially if you hold executive positions (I have been secretary, vice president, and president), and it also teaches you to be a follower. Public speaking is a big one for me; performing speeches was something I was pretty good at anyway, but 4-H has improved my skills greatly. As I want to be a journalist, being able to speak in front of people is crucial. 4-H teaches you to make better judgments and give reasons for why you did so. To a small extent it teaches you to meet deadlines, and it teaches parliamentary procedure, which is a neat skill to have.

    4-H helped me in school, primarily from a public speaking perspective. In my IB Higher Level English class, we had to do many presentations and I always did very well. I give credit to the many speeches I did through 4-H. Other skills such as leadership and teamwork are very useful in a school environment.

    4-H looks fantastic on a resume and therefore it helped me get a job. While I feel it was more helpful in getting my previous library job (experience with kids and crafting abilities ended up being big selling points), it certainly didn't hinder me in getting my warehouse job. In a world where jobs are hard to come by, one needs a good, strong resume to snag employment.

    I am part of my university's Welcome Week committee and it is because in my application I mentioned that 4-H gave me much experience with committees, leadership, and planning activities. Selection for Welcome Week committee members was done by having House Committee read the applications anonymously, and I was told that when mine was read, it was unanimous that I should be selected.

    Clearly to say that 4-H doesn't advance a person in the world is downright wrong.

  3. Well I do have to agree completely with what you said. I wrote that comment sometime early in the morning and the brain was not firing on all cylinders. 4-H does give a person many life skills that they can carry with them all throughout their lives.

    Of course I am responding again early in the morning.

    Justin, The Forklift Driver