What is your fondest 4-H and/or FFA memory?

If asked this question I could list tons of memories, but beyond the banners and trophies I remember the people.

Recently, my family spent the weekend at the North American Livestock Expo (NAILE) in Louisville, Ky. NAILE is a large livestock show where youth and adults from all over the United States come to show their livestock. My family participated in the youth Ayrshire dairy show. Simultaneously happening was the youth swine (pig) show, where a local youth from Michigan made the top five in the senior swine showmanship. Showmanship is the competition that the judge is judging the youth and their showing abilities, not the animal. During the competition the judge gave an envelope with a question for the top five youth to answer on the microphone in front of the audience. The question that caught my attention was “What is your fondest 4-H and/or Future Farmers of America (FFA) memory?”

If I were asked that question I could list tons of memories; winning Michigan State Dairy judging competition, competing at the National FFA convention or winning my showmanship sweepstakes competition at my local 4-H fair. But beyond the banners and trophies I remember the people. My local 4-H leaders have continued to be friends into adulthood and now are mentors to my own children who have started their 4-H career. I remember the life skills that I learned as a 4-H member such as: Responsibility, dedication, sportsmanship and public speaking. The biggest and fondest memory for me was spending time with my family. We would spend hours walking and getting our cows ready for the State Dairy Days, 4-H fair and state fair. We had so much fun doing those things together and the memories and friends that we made have lasted a lifetime.

Now that my children are old enough to show at the livestock youth shows and to join 4-H we have continued the tradition of traveling to various shows and making memories. The most recent show at NAILE, nobody won a banner, but – getting lost, going to eat, seeing friends, laughing and shopping are the memories that I will remember. Nobody remembers what you did or what you said, but they will remember how you made them feel! Spending quality time as a family is so very important during these precious years with your children.

For more information about Michigan 4-H youth programs or other programs that Michigan State University Extension has to offer.

Be sure to check out Part 2 of this article, Have youth livestock shows turned to be competitive and unethical practices being used?

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