I pined for a horse my entire childhood. I drew pictures of myself with my black and white Paint pony named Dakota, I scoured the Classifieds every weekend, and I dreamed of wearing rhinestones and unnecessarily large belt buckles as a barrel-racing rodeo queen. But it didn’t matter how many hours I spent studying those photo-illustrated pages in the H encyclopedia, large livestock just wasn’t in the cards for our military family.
Instead, my parents agreed to let us have rabbits, sheep, and chickens — all in the name of 4-H. When we moved to Arkansas before I started fourth grade, we found 4-H and joined the Sylvania Servers Club in our county. The experience is one I couldn’t — and didn’t — truly appreciate until I was a full-grown adult, applying skills I learned during those years that were about much, much more than animals and county fairs. It’s really only now I look back and remember being introduced to Parliamentary Procedure in our club meetings, time spent practicing demonstrations and talks at a card table in our living room, and some of my earliest memories of service during Saturday morning clean-ups of our mile of Highway 38.
These Hoods may never have sheep and (I’m tempting fate by saying) we’ll never have cows, but we wanted to give Colt the experience of service and leadership and confidence and overall be-a-good-citizen-ship that is 4-H.
So the kid’s a Cloverbud.
This Saturday, we met Scout and Eileen at Activity Day, and I smiled because so much of it was exactly how I remembered it. Wildlife, ornamental horticulture, and crop identification. Bait casting. BB gun shooting. Bicycle course.
As we walked between activities at one point, he squeezed my hand and said, “trying new things is awesome, right Mom?” You betcha, Buddy.
The older kids completed similar activities but earned points toward competition, while the Cloverbuds were there to try new things and have some fun. As we walked in the door, the kids each got a piece of paper with empty squares representing each activity. Throughout the morning, they collected stickers for each thing they tried, and we eventually made the rounds to everything. One square in particular, I assumed we would bypass.
Talk or Demo.
When will I learn not to underestimate this kid?
He and Scout both did it! We told them they could talk about anything in the world — Legos, school, snow, favorite food — anything. Scout chose volleyball practice and Colt followed up with a talk on basketball. The whole thing lasted about 30 seconds, but it was completely impromptu and they’re SIX. I’m impressed.
Who knows what 4-H will bring. At this age, they’re encouraged to try as many things as possible, and don’t have to truly identify a single project focus yet. More structure will come, but for now — trying new things is awesome, Buddy. Trying new things is awesome.