When A. B. Graham first founded 4-H in 1902, it was different from most boys and girls clubs because the members help offices and managed their club rather than adults. Being in 4-H has given me the opportunity to be a leader, enhancing many useful life skills in the process. Therefore, I thank 4-H for my communication and leadership skills, as well as my understanding of community service.
One of the most important things 4-H has taught me is the importance of community service. My club has performed many service projects including donations, trash pickup, volunteering time, and raising money for charities. Participation in these events taught me that community service is an important part of everyday life.
However, as club community service officer, I learned the aspect of planning service projects. I organized numerous donations to local organizations including the Red Cross, a local church, the Fayette County Food Bank, and an organization providing free meals to those in need. Organizing a service project is a lot more meaningful than simply participating. Another service project I helped with was our Fayette County Teen Leadership Council’s Jingle Bell Jog. This was a charity 5K raising money for our local food pantry. For this run, the Teen Leadership Council helped to finalize the plans and run the jog. I helped with runner registration and running the race timer. By both leading and helping with community service projects, I have a better understanding of what community service is and why it is necessary.
Another very important life skill I have acquired from 4-H is communication. This includes interview skills and confidence in public speaking. One way my interview skills has been improved is through the multiple interviews I have had for project judging. When I was first beginning in 4-H, having an interview with a judge seemed very daunting for me. Through the kind advice from early judges and many years of practice, I have learned how to conduct myself during an interview. I have also learned how to properly prepare for questions that may be asked, as well as how to quickly craft an answer to an unforeseen question.
Public speaking is another one of the communication skills 4-H has taught me. I have always presented an officer’s report to the club for my office. This simple action of standing up before my club and presenting a report I wrote has served as a great starting point for my public speaking. I further worked on my public speaking when I participated in the Health and Safety Public Speaking Contest. I started out by writing a simple speech about tornado safety. At the county level, I won the privilege of participating in the area contest. I went back to my speech and started tweaking small details. I also went to my church and began practicing the presentation of my speech.
When the area competition came, my hard work paid off and I qualified for the state contest. I went back and made some final adjustments based on suggestions from judges. From all of this hard work and improvement of my public speaking skills; I was able to win a clock trophy at the State Fair. 4-H has improved my communication skills through project and position interviews as well as public speaking activities.
Another skill I have learned from 4-H is how to be a leader. I learned from 4-H camp to be a leader by example, both with my campers and with my fellow counselors. 4-H also taught me leadership skills from being on various boards and serving in different capacities. I am currently serving on the Fayette County Family and Consumer Sciences (FCS) Board. We plan activities for the Fayette County Jr. Fair and work to increase interest in FCS projects. By being on this board, I have learned how to make important decisions, which is a requirement of any leader. I have also been a Jr. Superintendent, working mostly in the computers department, where I helped input all livestock information, show results, and created show and sale bills. This job taught me how to be responsible, as well as being accountable for my actions.
Thanks to 4-H, I have learned many valuable life skills. It has taught me how to be a good citizen, given me communication skills, and improved my leadership ability. In addition, the leadership opportunities offered in 4-H have taught me invaluable skills that will help make me successful at college, at home, and in the professional world.