4-H Grown

I took a day off from work this week and traveled to Delaware to help judge entries in the Delaware State Fair. Every year I go with my Dad and judge photographs that Delaware youth ages 8-18 have entered into the fair in hopes of receiving a blue ribbon.

That was me almost ten years ago. I was a 4-Her from the ages of 8-18 and was very active in my club, county, state and even at a National level. Do you know what 4-H is?

4-H is a global network of youth organizations whose mission is “engaging youth to reach their fullest potential while advancing the field of youth development”

Today there are over 6.5 million youth participating in 4-H programs around the country and it speaks volumes to how much of an impact that program has on its members and why folks not only come back each year but recruit their friends and family members to join them!

I didn’t play sports as a kid (besides that time I tried Field Hockey and was so bad they asked me to be the manager) so 4-H was my extra curricular activity. I had six projects that I did every year (foods, photography, citizenship, pubic speaking, demonstrations, and leadership) and then sprinkled in new ones each year to learn more (sewing, rabbits, rockets, computers). My calendar year was spent competing in contests, entering exhibits, doing research and implementing what I was learning into my daily life.

But how does 4-H help me as an adult? I see the effects of 4-H in my daily life every single day! Whether it be my personal or professional world, the ideals I learned in 4-H have stuck with me since childhood.

Meeting New People

Going to camp as a shy ten year old with only a few friends at the same camp was scary. I had to learn how to introduce myself to strangers and make new friends. Nine times out of ten the other people are in the same boat and are just waiting for another person to make the first move. I learned how to zone in on similarities or things in common in order to break the ice quickly. Today this is helpful when attending meetings and representing my organization- the meeting attendees are there for the same reason so why not open up a dialogue around that.

Leading Others

When I was too old to attend camp as a camper, I became a counselor. Learning how to lead others has been crucial in my professional setting as a supervisor.

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Public Speaking

The #1 fear in America is public speaking- I get it! Standing up in front of a group of people and just TALKING can be a daunting task. When I was eight my parents entered me into my first public speaking competition and I stood in front of over one hundred people and talked about Beanie Babies… I won first place. Every year I begged my parents to give me a year off from competiting and they pushed me to do it. I won 8/10 years that I competed and even went to states and placed there! This has been the biggest blessing in my life and helps me in my personal life as well as professional. I have to promote my events on our local tv stations at least once a month and I do so comfortably. Check out my most recent interview HERE.

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Communication Skills

My parents pushed me to participate in demonstration contests each year(it was the other non-negotiable with Public Speaking) and every year I complained. Are you sensing a theme here? Today I use those skills to communicate my thoughts clearly and explain my point efficiently.

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Cooking Skills

This one is so simple but I learned how to cook and bake through 4-H. I spent time in the kitchen with my parents preparing meals for our family and holidays, but through 4-H I had to make a dish all by myself. For the state fair each year I’d enter up to ten items ranging from rolls to cookies to chocolate covered cherries and it was up to me on how well I placed. Today I love to bake and share those recipes on my blog!

Blogging/Record Keeping

Each of those projects that I mentioned above needed to be documented. At the end of every year I submitted a project book, which was similar to a scrapbook filled with records of what I had accomplished, contests I had competed in related to that project and what I had learned. This blog serves as current day record book. I have been writing on this website since 2012 and love looking back at all I’ve accomplished and experienced in the last five years.

I am so thankful that my parents signed me up for 4-H twenty years ago. I’ve made lifelong friends and found an organization that I love and cherish. My goal is to continue volunteering and supporting 4-H. Hopefully I’ll follow in my Daddy’s footsteps and be a 4-H Leader someday with my own little ones crying about doing demonstrations! 

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  • Katie Ervin

    These pictures of you are giving my LIFE today! You were so cute, and I love that your parents made you take those courses. Public speaking and learning to be a leader at such a young age is an irreplaceable skill as an adult. I may just have my kids one day do the same thing, :) #CampbellsForTheWin

  • http://kyleandjensmith.blogspot.com/ Jen

    I absolutely love this!!!! I’ve heard only great things about this organization.