The Great Geauga County Fair in Ohio will take place this Labor Day weekend and offers great fun for the whole family. Whenever I think of the County Fair, I think of 4-H. It’s tradition in Geauga County for the schools to close during the Fair. Participating in the Fair is a learning activity. It’s school in the great outdoors.
“The seed of the 4-H idea of practical and “hands-on” learning came from the desire to make public school education more connected to country life. Early programs tied both public and private resources together for the purpose of helping rural youth.” (1)
The name 4-H represents four personal development areas of focus for the organization: Head, Heart, Hands, and Health. For years I thought 4-H stood for agriculture, horses, hogs, cows, sheep, goats, etc. I was wrong. Though animals and agriculture certainly play a large part of 4-H, the program and pledge for 4-H goes much deeper. When the members join they make a promise to do their part for the betterment of all animals and all mankind. Their pledge is to make the world a better place.
“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.” The goal for the 4-H youth members is to make the best better, and to learn while doing. (2)
Children of all ages join and participate in 4-H activities. There are also collegiate 4-H programs. 4-H is the foundation for a lifetime of conscious decision making and caring action. 4-H is committed to the physical, mental, and emotional health of its members, with the intent and goal of leading others to good health by example. Proper nutrition and safety is learned and practiced. Education and application of healthy living is supported in every aspect of 4-H. The program offers positive day-to-day life lessons, with positive commitments to the future.
“4-H will address our nation’s critical challenge by preparing 1 million new young people to excel in science, engineering, and technology by 2013. Currently, 4-H Science, Engineering and Technology programs reach more than 5 million youth with hands-on learning experiences to encourage young minds and fill the pipeline of young leaders proficient in science.” (3)
So this year when you go to your local County Fair, look long and hard at those animals. Think about all the work that went into making them the best, the healthiest, and the happiest they can be. Think about the dreams of the participants; their goals in life. Think about the long hours they spent preparing that science project and nuturing their prize winning rabbit or steer. Think about the months and months of schooling their horse for the show. Think about our nation’s youth going above and beyond, day in and day out, to make the world a better place.