When my husband, Jeremy, and I had children old enough to join a club, we discussed a couple of different options. We ended up deciding that 4-H would be best fit for our family and would benefit our kids greatly. Jeremy grew up in 4-H. I, however, had no idea what I was getting myself into. Here are some of the reasons we have grown to love being a 4-H family.
“I get to hang out with my friends and family. I get to learn about animals. I love camping at fair. Going to the dance is really fun. I get to meet new people.”
Ava Monat, age 10 4-H member
7 Reasons to Love 4-H!
1. Leadership skills
4-H gives you plenty of opportunity to learn leaderships skills, whether it be holding a meeting and having an appointed office or helping younger children in 4-H. You are also encouraged to give presentations to your club on whatever topic you would like. One presentation this year was how to sign a check. I thought that was a perfect opportunity for that young lady to present to her fellow 4-Her’s how to sign a check, and she just happened to be the secretary of our club also. There are always opportunities to grow in your leadership skills in 4-H.
2. Community Service
Our children are a part of a small town club and they get plenty of opportunities to serve that small town. The club plants flowers in all the planters in town and just recently they planted new trees after a really bad wind storm took out some of the town’s trees. Our club has also gone and helped a local vineyard pick grapes at harvest time. The club sends cards to Veterans on Vet’s Day. Our club is also greatly supported by the residents, Pork Producers, Beef Producers, and local farmers. It helps give them a sense of pride in their community.
If you are holding an office position for your club, it is up to you to fill that job the best you can. There are so many things you need to be responsible for in 4-H. If you are taking animals to fair, you need to be the one doing daily chores for that animal. If you decide to take projects, it is up to you to get them accomplished before fair starts.
Friendship is astounding in 4-H. I know for a fact that my daughters have a ton of 4-H friends. They get excited to see their friends that don’t attend the same school they do. We have only taken chickens to fair, but their friends have stepped up and helped them bathe their chickens. (Yes! The judge likes freshly washed chickens!) I’ve also seen them step in to help a friend wash their calf. (I think it’s because my kids secretly would really like to be showing cattle, but chickens will have to do for now!)
“Our kids are involved in 4-H because not only is it fun for them but we believe it teaches them lessons they will use all throughout their lives, such as honesty, integrity, and the value of hard work and a job well done.”
Jennifer Dvorak, fellow 4-H mom
5. Job Opportunities
They can explore projects that can lead to future careers. For example, if they wanted to be a horse farrier someday, they could do a project talking about how to trim a horse’s hooves or do a working exhibit on the subject. If you are interested in photography, you can take a photo to the fair to be judged, and the judge will give you great pointers on how to take a great picture. They can also explore being a pig farmer! How cool is that?!
4-Her’s take pride in their accomplishments. It’s not always easy, but after working hard and getting to their end goal, they can feel pride in what they have accomplished. To be able to take a piece of their work to the Iowa State Fair is a huge accomplishment, or to scoop up the Showmanship Award is something to be proud of.
I dare you to ask my kids what their favorite part of summer was. I am 99.9% sure that they will say the county fair. We camp there for a couple of nights. Our fair, the Tama County Fair, is one of the smallest in Iowa. There are no concerts or rides, just some good old fashioned hanging with friends on the sand volleyball court or watching other friends show their animals. The best night is always fun night. And of course we can’t forget the fair dance! (Jeremy chaperoned this year, which I’m sure our daughters were not very thrilled about!)
“I like 4-H because it’s a great learning experience for me. I also get to hang out with my friends at fair. It’s really enjoyable.”
Aubree Monat, age 13 4-H Member
Opportunities 4-H Offers
4-H is not all about animals, although a lot of it is focused on ag and animals. You can take projects to fair to be judged and considered for the Iowa State Fair. This year my oldest daughter’s photograph was chosen to go to the Iowa State Fair. We can’t wait to head down to Des Moines and see her photo hanging in the 4-H building. We are so proud of the hard work she put into that picture.
There are also many camps that you can take your 4-Her to. One that my 2nd oldest daughter attended this summer was the Fishing Camp held at a local lake. She had a lot of fun learning about all the kinds of fish in the lake and then getting to fish! My oldest daughter also got to go on a trip to the capitol. She said it was great to get to see how our government worked.
Let’s be honest here. I, too, look forward to 4-H every single year. The meetings are fun. I get to watch the kids take on responsibilities and lead others that they might not get to do otherwise. The club holds activities, like skating parties, potlucks, and a family fun night. Because the club is also a non-profit organization, we sell sack lunches to farmers during harvest to raise money for some of our fun things we do, like our annual pizza night at fair. There are so many great opportunities!
I enjoy watching the kids grow and learn! The county fair is something the kids work hard towards all year long. It stresses me out a little bit before fair week–I like to call it, “Let’s see how stressed out we can get Mom before she keels over” week! By Sunday I’m ready to go home, but I enjoy watching our children excel and learn real life skills and make new friends.
They also have a 4-H building at the Iowa State Fair! If you head to the State Fair this year, make sure to stop by the building and see all of the awesome projects Iowa 4-H members have done!