Monday, October 7, 2013

It's National 4-H Week!!

It's national 4-H week!! Of all the organizations I've been a part of over the years, there is not one more important to me than 4-H. I wouldn't have had the opportunities I've had in the dairy industry without it. 
Since we are celebrating this great organization, now seems like an appropriate time to reflect on how I became involved with 4-H. 
My uncle Jim was in 4-H when he was a kid and my brother was so excited to join when he was in 5th grade. I, however, wasn't as thrilled until a series of events changed my mind, and I'm SO thankful it did! I cannot imagine my life without the dairy industry, cows and the wonderful friends I've gotten to know because of it. I'm forever grateful to this organization for giving me a passion for dairying.

Where it all began
It all started at a 4-H Christmas party in 2000. I was actually just tagging along with my parents and my brother to a meeting of the 4-H club my brother would soon be joining. I grew up around cows, but at that point in my life, they weren’t my passion. At that Christmas party, I met someone that has since become a great friend, Sarah. Over the next few months, she tried to get me to join 4-H and even said that I could come over and ride horses at her farm if I joined the club. I still wasn’t convinced. Horses weren’t really my thing either. That March, my family went up to Monroe for a youth calf sale so my brother could buy his first registered show calf, a Holstein named Freya (and for all my fellow Cougs, yes, she was a Wazzu calf!).
We were driving home from the sale when I said, “If Jake gets a calf, I want a calf too!” While this outburst may have been extremely childish, it led to one of the best decisions of my life: joining 4-H.

Leading my first show calf Allie at our farm

The next week, my mom, one of the 4-H leaders and I went to a local dairy farm to pick out a calf for me, a Holstein that I named Allie. I’m a little embarrassed to admit that I was terrified of that calf. I mean, what if she ran away when I was trying to lead her?! Or stepped on my foot?! Thinking about this now makes me laugh because while she did both of those things many times, she also gave me a love for the dairy industry.

Jodie and I posing for pictures after fair practice on the lawn

As time went on, I went from last place in my class at the show to first and eventually won Supreme Champion with one of my Guernseys. I will forever be grateful for all the lessons my show cows taught me and all the new opportunities and friends that came from just joining 4-H and the dairy world.

Showing cows is about more than learning how to perfect a top line before the show or winning a fancy rosette. I learned that there is a lot of hard work that goes into making things look easy. Countless hours spent leading stubborn calves and heifers around the field and many more working on other aspects of taking care of these animals. Nothing comes easy without hard work. It may just look that way. 

What are some of your favorite 4-H memories? What was the greatest lesson you learned from your involvement in the 4-H program?
JoJo before winning Supreme Champion at the fair

1 comment:

  1. Looking after a calf is surely not an easy task although it might look easy but it requires alot of hardwork and attention. It becomes interesting and fun if you have got a friend to give you some company.

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