"I pledge my head to clearer thinking, my heart to greater loyalty, my hands to larger service, and my health to better living, for my club, my community, my country, and my world."
I have recited this pledge for the last nine years of my life. Joining the Outdoor Adventures 4-H club at 9 years old was one of the most cultivating decisions of my childhood. 4-H has taught me so many things about myself and about the community around me. I have had countless doors opened for me through 4-H. Being able to participate in county-wide events as well as travel as a club around the U.S. have been some of my best memories as a kid. Being in 4-H for so long and participating in so many events has allowed me to gain friendships that will last a lifetime.
Through my years in 4-H I have learned a countless number of new skills. Participating in events like the Benton County Fair has taught me the responsibility of raising and maintaining a show hog. Each year my Dad and I would travel a couple hours away from home to go pick out the perfect hog. I would tell my Dad what I thought the "perfect hog" should look like and then we would pick one out together. I would then spend the next three to four months feeding, washing, and walking my hog. I learned how to properly feed accurate portions, so my hog would be the right weight come show time. I would practice walking my hog so when it came to show time it would stride out just right for the judge to see all its best features.
For the last three years I have acted as President for the Outdoor Adventures 4-H club. During this time, I conducted meetings and different club events. As president I would have to speak to the club as a whole and be able to answer any questions thrown my way. This improved my public speaking skills as well as my personal communication skills.
Through the years, I have gained a large number of new friendships through 4-H. I have had the opportunity to attend events like 4-H Summer Camp where I met other 4-H members from across the county. We participated in team activities that allowed us to learn about our peers. Being able to communicate with my peers properly has helped me outside of 4-H in all kinds of ways. I have been able to use these skills in jobs, school, and team sports.
I have also had the opportunity to become very close to the adults that make everything in 4-H possible. These bonds have helped me tremendously this last year while applying for college and scholarships. The adult leaders of 4-H have offered to be references and even write me recommendation letters.
One of the biggest parts of 4-H is helping the community. Each month our club does some form of community service, whether it be cleaning up the park, donating water to the football team, or working a 5K race. Being able to give back to the people around me has been one of my favorite parts of 4-H. Over the years our club has done the most community service in the entire county. One of my all-time favorite community service events was dressing up as the Easter Bunny and taking pictures with all the kids at the city Easter Event.