Famous anthropologist, Margaret Mead, once said, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”
Getting involved in our community has been a way of life for my family. From a young age my parents, by example, taught me the importance of getting involved and giving back to the world in which we live. My dad has always told me “quit complaining and find a solution.”
I didn’t always understand how that applied to so many aspects of life until I started getting involved in citizenship and service activities. It is easy to sit back and complain about a problem but that doesn’t change it. However, people working together can resolve any challenge. Through organizations such as 4-H, I have been challenged to make a difference in my community.
Throughout my 4-H career I have had the opportunity to learn about how our government works in a variety of ways . One year our club was having trouble convincing members to run for officer positions, so our club advisors invited a city council member to come speak about the importance of stepping up to the plate and serving in a leadership position. I remember him sharing with us his reasoning for running for city council and how it was important to be involved in strengthening your community for future generations. He also shared how it was a great opportunity to connect with others, show pride in your community and develop new skills.
That year I was elected vice president of our 4-H club, and the next year president. My 4-H club has taken time to learn about our government in several different ways. We toured the Jasper Township Hall learning about the history of my township and visited the county engineer’s office to learn about our county infrastructure. We visited with our juvenile judge, who shared about his job and showed us around our county courthouse. We also toured the Ohio State House and met with our state representative and state senator to learn about our elected officials and the political process at the state level.
These opportunities really opened my eyes to the width and depth of our government, at the local, county and state levels, and showed me that I too can become an engaged citizen by getting involved.
Running for office is not the only way to make a difference in your community. Just by being a contributing member of society, you can help make the world a better place. Service to one’s community can take many shapes and forms. There are some service projects that are easy but still have a large impact on people’s lives. A few of these service projects that I have participated in through 4-H include: collecting canned food for the local food pantry, donating baby items for the LIFE Pregnancy Center, walking in the Hike for Hospice and setting up polling stations for election day. Other service projects take more time and effort. It is these kinds of projects that really make you feel like you are contributing to the betterment of your community.
One year our 4-H club spent an entire day cleaning and making repairs at The Warehouse, a local youth center that provides a safe place for teens to hang out. We swept and mopped the floors, cleaned bathrooms, repaired the broken privacy fence and mowed the lawn.
It was a long hard day, but in the end, we all felt like we were making a difference in our town. Although I don’t frequent The Warehouse, I hope my efforts to clean the place up made a difference in the lives of other local teens. Another project I helped with was planting flowers at a local nursing home. Being an older member in my club, it was my responsibility to help gather the necessary supplies as well as divide up planting responsibilities. It was a dirty project but knowing it brought happiness to the senior citizens living at the home made it all worth it.
By serving others you naturally learn to accept each other’s differences and work to assure others are treated with respect and courtesy . I can honestly say that 4-H has challenged me to become the best version of myself. I am still a work in progress, but I look forward to continuing to seek out ways to make a difference in the lives of others throughout college and as an adult. I hope to someday return to my community and continue to step up to the plate, whether it be serving on a local board or running for political office. I want to be a role model and continue down the path of serving others while celebrating our differences to make this world a better place to live, both now and for future generations.