Sunday, February 9, 2014


4-H continues to evolve from its humble beginnings more than a hundred years ago. Minnesota is a leading state for innovation of youth programming. Leonard Harkness was a long-time visionary leader who developed the program well beyond farm education and home economics. It was an honor to be acquainted with him as he finished his tenure and continued involvement after retirement.

4-H began as an Extension Service program, meaning that it was focused on education based on research at the University of Minnesota. That worked well since the majority of residents were involved in agriculture production and resided in small communities. As the demographics changed, the program was moved to the School of Education at the University of Minnesota. It was mostly good but some of the staff forgets the rural roots of the program. 4-H’ers are still on the farm, in small communities without high-speed Internet, and need support, too.

I would take about a dozen projects to the county fair each year. I hated to write the written “records” documenting my work but other than that chore I loved 4-H. I learned about time management and personal responsibility. I would have to make a plan, figure out a timeline and budget. I was responsible for the projects, though I could ask for help. I would rarely be caught unprepared and that was generally due to an unexpected delay with the project.

I earned blue ribbons well over ninety percent of the time. I usually received at least four purple (merit award) and one or two reserve champion (#2) or grand champion (#1) ribbons. One year of the 16 projects I received 8 purples, two reserve champions and four grand champions. The local newspaper took photos of the champions so I was grinning a lot. I could only choose one project to take to the Minnesota State Fair. I learned to take the project, which required the least preparation. One year I took a food display and it was a nightmare to prepare the meal before meeting with the judge but I still got a purple ribbon and was elated. I had the opportunity to participate in regional records judging but declined. Ironically, I enjoy writing now but I didn’t as a teen.

Head, Heart, Hands and Health!
Copyright © 2014 by Ima B. Musing; All rights reserved

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