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Elizabeth LaMar

EDITOR’S NOTE: The following essay was written by a 10-year 4-H member about the topic “What 4-H Means To Me.” The Courier-Times received the essay from the Henry County Purdue Extension Office. This year, there are 26 10-year 4-H members. The newspaper will feature essays from two members per day, in alphabetical order by last name, until each member has been featured.

I have dreaded writing this essay for years. The paper we are given says “Essay on ‘What 4-H has meant to me?’ (no more than 500 words).” How am I supposed to put into any amount of words something that has been a part of my life for 12 years, when including Minis? I really can’t describe all the feelings I associate with 4-H.

The sheep, rabbits, and garden projects are the projects I have taken to the fair every year for the past ten years. Rabbits has been my least favorite project, because they are the most labor-intensive animals on our farm. Sheep has been my favorite project. I love helping my family take care of our Shetland sheep year-round, breeding and feeding in the fall and winter, and seeing lambs born in the spring. Showing them at not only the county level, but also at open shows and the state level, is the highlight of my summer. I love dressing up in my show clothes and parading my sheepies around the ring. There is no other place on earth where I feel as confident and as beautiful as I do in the arena.

For five years, I have been a part of Junior Leaders. I love this club because of the activities we do together. My favorites are shopping for a Salvation Army family we adopt, competing in the photo scavenger hunt, and playing bingo with nursing home residents. Even the business meetings are fun, because they are truly led by 4-H members, not adults, and I get to see friends that I would otherwise see only once a year during the fair. If not for these meetings, I would not have the background knowledge of how parliamentary procedure applies to real world meetings.

In addition to projects, the out-of-fair experiences I have been a part of have been instrumental in shaping my summers. Such honors have included two years of 4-H Round-Up, three years of State 4-H Chorus, and being one of two 2017 Henry County Ambassadors. Even experiences outside of 4-H have been positively influenced by my 4-H story. The Indiana 2017 R.E.M.C. Youth Tour to Washington, D.C., was full of kids who did 4-H, FFA or both. Throughout these opportunities, 4-H has helped me make so many wonderful friends by providing us with a conversation starter and something in common to bring us together and keep us together.

I cannot thank my parents enough for involving me in this program from such a young age, which allowed me to have the prestigious honor of being a 10-year member. I cannot wait to involve my kids in our local 4-H program, and help out as a leader.