Because of 4-H

Because of 4-H

Oct 9
Jennifer Shike, Director for Communications and Marketing

I’m not exaggerating when I admit that I got a little misty-eyed when I heard my son, Hunter, recite the 4-H pledge at the beginning of his 4-H Cloverbuds meeting last night. It gets to me every time. There’s just something about my fourth-generation 4-Her…knowing he has unlimited opportunities before him to make a difference through a program that has made such a difference in our family.

I hope he will learn how to invest in others through his experience in 4-H. Growing up, I watched my grandparents and parents lead 4-H clubs. I think they are collectively up to 75 years of leadership and counting. That commitment to youth and developing young leaders is what 4-H is all about. To invest that much time into the next generation is inspiring to me and something I hope Hunter will value, too.

My grandpa, sheep show superintendent, walks by while I'm showing at the Washington County Fair.

I hope he uncovers his passions through 4-H. With all of the opportunities 4-H offers today, the options are endless! My husband and I both grew up showing livestock and began judging livestock through 4-H. That led our paths to cross at college where we judged on the same team for four years. Today Dan judges livestock shows all across the country because of the doors 4-H initially opened for him. And I had the privilege of going to work for the National Swine Registry for 10 years and developed the National Junior Swine Association based on my 4-H experiences.

My husband, Dan, showing an Angus heifer in 4-H at the Mercer County Fair.

Dan judging the Angus heifers at the National Junior Angus Show 25 years later.

Most importantly, I hope Hunter develops great friendships and has fun. 4-H brings people together and teaches kids how to meet people, work in teams, network, and engage with people of all ages. I traveled across the country because of 4-H. I learned how to win humbly and I learned how to lose graciously because of 4-H. I have friends all over the country because of 4-H. And I hope someday Hunter gets to enjoy life more fully like I do because of 4-H.

This week is National 4-H week.  It’s a great time to visit and “like” Illinois 4-H on social media, and You can tag your own 4-H pictures and memories with “#thats4H” to share them with the broader 4-H community.

Hunter and his friend, Lucille, show off the 4-H flag at their first Cloverbuds meeting of the year.