It’s official. I am the proud parent of a third-generation 4-H’er. The boys and I headed off to their first 4-H meeting last week. I could not help but smile as I watched both of them turn from rambunctious boys to shy and uncertain of the rest of the group.
My oldest son’s actions reminded me of when I was 9 walking into my first 4-H meeting in the Claverack building in Tunkhannock, Pa. All of the kids were much older, and I was the “new kid” in the group. I stumbled through the 4-H pledge trying to remember both the words and the motions, and feeling silly for muddling through it all. Fortunately, relief came a few meetings later as another family joined the club and the one daughter and I were able to figure out the whole 4-H experience together. It also created a friendship that lasted through our 4-H careers.
The 4-H experience has changed in some ways, and in others it remains the same.
The meetings are still slightly disorganized and sometimes chaotic as the kids try to work through a set of issues, trying to pass motions and build consensus for group decisions. The leaders try to guide the meeting, making sure all kids are heard and none of them disappear into the woodwork.
The boys’ 4-H walk has yet to be written. However, my hopes for the boys’ 4-H career is simple. To take the opportunities 4-H programs provides and make the most of it. It’s a chance to teach about committing to complete a project, provide a learning opportunity and insights to if cows are something he will enjoy. It’s a chance to experiment and try new ideas and interests. As for where the road will take the family, I expect there will be plenty of “green and white,” and some great memories along the way.
-- Charlene Shupp Espenshade, special sections editor