As you get older, you think about things or people that have impacted your life. Growing up as a Gordon County 4-H’er, a few of the folks that made a positive impact on me were Mary Putnam, Joe Darby, Steve Moraitakis and Jack Dyer. These folks were the ones that took us to camp, weekend trips and rallies and to judging contests. The life skills learned by participation in 4-H help me every day. Today, I will like to center on what participation in 4-H can do for a local young person and use 4-H livestock participation as the example.
First, 4-H is just not agriculture related. True, agriculture is our base, but you do not have to live on a farm, show a steer or know how to grow a vegetable to be a member. We have youth that grow in areas such as performing arts, community service and leadership areas to name a few. Some youth without an agriculture background do decide to participate on one of our Ag based judging teams because enjoy 4-H and want to try something new. This is where the theme to my article starts.
I wish as a youth, I kept up with all the hours I invested in livestock judging practices. Just like Gordon County 4-H is one of the top judging programs anywhere now, we were real good when I was a member. Joe Darby and Mr. Dyer spent some much time preparing us for contests. We had high expectations and normally met those goals annually. At that moment it was all about winning that contest, but now you look back and you see the true meaning of learning life skills.
We learned the art of decision making, enhanced our public speaking skills and grew our self-confidence. The same skills I was taught in the 80’s are the same a youth can learn by participation on a Gordon 4-H judging team today.
November 3, 2012 is our annual AgGeorgia Farm Credit, ACA Heifer Show. This show has been around for years. The show will start around 11 a.m. at the NW Georgia Livestock Pavilion. The list of Bowman’s that have showed cattle in this event is getting pretty long with Lindsay showing for the first time this year.
I encourage you to come out and check out what area youth are doing in the heifer project. When you do see a show at the fairgrounds or at the livestock pavilion, you are seeing the finished product of a lot of work. I could write for days on life skills that can be learned by showing an animal.
The first skill is responsibility. Showing cattle, sheep, goats and show pigs can be work. There is nothing wrong with having to put effort in a project. The responsibility involved can be cleaning stalls, feeding animals, cleaning water buckets, washing the animals, brushing, grooming, practicing for a show and much more.
As youth get older in the project, they can learn a lot about money management too. You learn the value of a dollar when paying a feed bill, paying a vet bill or paying entry fees for shows. A youth learns good sportsmanship by participation too. Throughout a show season, you are going to have your highs and lows. You are going to win the blue ribbon sometimes and sometimes the other competitor is going to win. You learn to win with grace and even lose with class. Not a bad skill to learn that you will have your good and not so good days even as an adult.
At our show on November 3, we will have a silent auction and a food booth to help support our Gordon 4-H Livestock Judging Team heading to nationals. The trips to nationals are not cheap so we always need help with travel expenses. This is money well spent because I know the life skills these youth are learning by 4-H participation. Now that I am a father of my own two daughters, I realize why Mr. Dyer and Joe worked our judging teams so hard as kids. Not only were we prepared for success as youth, but my team members and I were preparing for the contest of life.
Finally, our Gordon 4-H staff is making their rounds visiting our local schools. We hope that many of our local young people will want to check out Gordon 4-H this school year. For more information contact Gordon County Extension at 706-629-8685 or firstname.lastname@example.org.