We're headed to the state fair. Actually, I am already here. I got here this morning to a wonderful surprise. Let's just say it was unexpected and I was ecstatic for such a wonderful morning.
Things are great down here.. Some of the things I have always loved are still here- the smell of the barns, the dust that makes breathing impossible and parking, oh parking how I love you - which as usual was a bitch... But it's the state fair... What else did I expect?
I just watched the Champion Crossbred Barrow drive and I was excited to see one of our local kids take Champion. It reminded me of my love of this time of year. But when I look back and relive the "glory days" in my mind I realize things have changed so much since my last year in 4-H... 10 years ago. The rings are different, the attire is different and most definitely the industry standard has changed. That's the amazing thing about life - so many things can change but so many things can remain the same. I've been removed from the show ring for a few years... As I've started attending more shows, as I watch the kids in the show ring and get acclimated with some of the new families I remember how much I loved it and how much 4-H was such an influential part of my life. The people, (from the new ones I am just meeting to the ones I have know most of my life) are just as nice as ever. They're friendly, competitive and no matter what - generally willing to lend a helping hand.
I preach (and sometimes yes it feels like preaching) how important the 4-H program is. The more I see it in action - the more fond I grow of its effects on the youth and the future leaders of the agriculture industry. I couldn't be more honest when I say this - and it is a little embarrassing to admit - I think my appreciation for the participants and the life lessons they learn has grown more so now than it did ten or even fifteen years ago when I was active in 4-H. I also have a special place in my heart for all the people that make this thing happen. It certainly isn't an easy task and it takes quite a lot for them to prepare as well.
Mike and I attend and broadcast from over 20 county fairs and town festivals every year and no matter where we are - I always get the same vibe.. 4-H is an important part of their life and their childhood. They're learning the lessons on their own that we often times forget to reinforce. Kids learn how to speak, they learn responsibility and most importantly they learn how to win and lose graciously. I am constantly impressed and amazed by these kids. They bring excitement to the future of agriculture.
So no matter how much things change... One thing will always remain the same.. 4-H does an amazing job shaping our youth into responsible and accountable young adults. I look forward to the hundreds of county fairs in my future and I am blessed to be able to tell their story. I think it is a story that should be told over and over and over again.
Remember the stories... Remember the lesson. I think sometimes we forget how important both are to our future.