Often times it was morning before we made it home and mom would say, “Lindsay, you should have started on this earlier instead of (insert phrase here... going to swim practice, picking watermelons, staying at farmer’s market, etc.).”
But of course, I always prevailed with a division champion ribbon or better and a ticket to the Indiana State Fair meaning my mom would again have to watch me work into the early morning hours.
The best part of 4-H was the sense of accomplishment it gave me. I did it all on my own. I didn’t have someone telling me what my arrangements should look like or what I should photograph. It was all me and my ideas I was rewarded.
A couple of years ago, we had a family stop at our farm market in early July and buy several hanging baskets and patio pots. Three days later, a local fair opened and as I was browsing through the exhibit hall, I noticed several hanging baskets. To be exact, a Bolivian Jew, a purple Swedish Ivy, and a gorgeous patio pot. This family had taken things they had purchased from our greenhouse and used them as 4-H projects. I felt sad for the kids. The purpose of 4-H is not to buy your project. It’s to feel a sense of accomplishment for completing the project regardless of the color of ribbon you earn. Is it nice to have those big Grand Champion ribbons? Yes, of course it is. But what have the kids learn from this experience? That it’s OK to not work for something?
To me, 4-H was more about improving my skills each year and trying to always come up with something more creative than I had the previous year.
I did 4-H because I wanted to, not because my parents thought it would look good on a resume or college application.