20,000 reasons why 4-H matters

20,000 reasons why 4-H matters

Mar 16
Judy Mae Bingman, 4-H Media & Marketing

“Try again.” I think that should be the new 4-H motto. 4-H does great things, but my most important lesson learned was to pick myself up and try again.

Phyllis Schultz was my 4-H leader. I can still feel her leaning over me, guiding my hands as I tried to sew the straightest seam possible; then watching me as I ripped it out to try again.

Some would say I’m an accomplished public speaker now, but in sixth grade, I was the only kid who got a “red ribbon” in the county 4-H speaking contest. I am who I am today because I didn’t give up; I tried again, and again, and again.

Years ago as a 4-H staff member in White County, a parent asked why her 9-year-old didn’t receive the highest Superior Award on her exhibit. The judge smiled and politely replied, “I hope at 9, she still has something to learn and somewhere to grow.”

4-H gives kids the opportunity to learn by doing, grow from failure and develop the skills they need to handle what life throws their way. No one knows this better than 4-H alumni who have experienced our programs firsthand.

Chances are, you have great memories from your years in 4-H… that special year of 4-H camp where you learned about nature or passed your swim test; that club leader who patiently taught you to sew; that year you served as president of your club; that summer you worked with your grandfather on a woodworking project. And, of course, the state fair.

Last year more than 26,500 youth were members of 4-H clubs, and another 175,000 youth participated in other 4-H youth development experiences, such as embryology classes, career training, summer camps, cooking clubs, robotics meets, and so much more. We’re as vital and important today as we’ve ever been.

You can help us. National 4-H Council is sponsoring a contest to see which state can identify the most 4-H alum. We think that should be easy for Illinois. The winning state receives $20,000. We could use that.

Here’s all you need to do. Go to 4-H.org/RaiseYourHand  to show your pride as a  4-H alum by registering. Have you stayed in touch with other 4H alum? Well, Text them, tweet them, snap them, email them, or share a post with them. You can even call them on the telephone or walk up to them on the street. Catch up, then ask them to raise their hand for 4-H, too.

There are 20,000 reasons why that’s a good idea.