Goodbye, 4-H. I have come to know you so well over the last ten years. To most I am certain ten years seems like a very long time but I assure you it isn’t long enough. I used to be a little nine-year-old small-town girl with dreams of living on a farm. At that age I never knew there was a place where I could learn about agriculture and love it so very much that I would eventually be able to show livestock! This was a dream come true and over the last ten years I have considered myself more blessed each year due to opportunities 4-H gave that nine-year-old little small-town girl.
This journey began when my oldest brother joined 4-H. I was too young to stay home alone so I tagged along for some of the 4-H meetings with the Greene Clover Gals & Guys Club. At that time the club selected the Greene County Project, Stuck on Duct as their group project. I thought this was so cool because I loved crafts and was creative myself and I was allowed to join in on the fun! I was able to mess around with duct tape while listening in on discussions and learning about the different projects and fair activities and opportunities. I grew to love the thought of being an official member of 4-H and couldn’t wait until the following year to actually join.
After I joined, I became captivated reviewing and researching the available projects, not knowing what to select I decided to try to take them all! Yes, I was the crazy girl that did ten to thirteen projects each year and I absolutely loved it! Of course, with this decision came some challenges. Not only the challenge of trying to get all my projects accomplished but becoming more known or exposed in 4-H world.
Each year was more challenging but my love grew and grew each year! All the work I did in and around 4-H meant more exposure and the fact people started knowing my name. For a shy girl, this was a little overwhelming at first because I felt like I didn’t know what all agriculture entailed, this was very scary. Being a
4-H member and having the opportunity do something I love changed me forever and for the best. “Every accomplishment starts with the decision to try.”- John F. Kennedy
My decision to try and come out of my shell help start my 4-H career. I am forever grateful! I was encouraged to try 4-H camp and I am forever appreciative for that encouragement because by the time it was my last year as a camper, I was considering becoming a counselor! I was going back and forth with becoming a counselor and with the help of advisors that believed in me and the encouragement from my friends, I decided to go for it. I am proud to say I lived the dream as a counselor and was able to pay it forward and lead by example helping some shy 4-Hers realize I was once in the same boat before I realized the opportunities and loved 4-H offered. It made me proud to represent 4-H and have such a positive influence on young 4-Hers.
Year after Year I became more involved with my club, my community, my extension office, and my great state of Ohio! Becoming more involved made me strive to make the best better. As I entered high school, I made a point to bring 4-H awareness to my peers in school. This was about the time I filled out my first achievement record which admittedly was overwhelming with all my experience officially down on paper. As a result, I was honored with a trip to Washington D.C. for Citizen Washington Focus representing Greene County. After I came back, I knew I had to show livestock somehow even though I was still not on that farm! This is when I found the Heider Farm where I would begin my experience with leasing and showing dairy. Last year I was able to show and qualify my horse at The Ohio State Fair. Then the whirlwind continued because a few months after fair I was able to go to Madison Wisconsin to represent Ohio for the National Dairy Conference.
Needless to say, 4-H has been the best thing to happen to me. With a heavy-heart, it is time to say goodbye. This is my last year, last camp, last project, and last fair. I am so very thankful to everyone that has helped me along the way during the hard times as well as the dream come true moments. All the memories and lifetime friends will still be here after the tears dry. “As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest form of appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them.”- John F. Kennedy, I plan to take in all the experience, life lessons, work ethic, and love and keep using it throughout my adult life. I will forever support 4-H and remain humble paying it forward, THANK YOU 4-H!
Forever A 4-H Girl, Ashley Howard