This I Believe

Tom - West Lafayette, Indiana
Entered on January 24, 2007
Age Group: 18 - 30
Themes: work

I believe in 4-H. The reason I believe in 4-H is the responsibility it taught me. 4-H also taught me that if I worked hard at something, my efforts would usually pay off. My dad, his brother and sister, and my grandfather all actively participated in 4-H. They believe in 4-H for the same reasons, so of course, this tradition continued on to me and my siblings.

4-H was one of those things I just could not wait to do. I did some projects like electricity and woodworking but mainly, I began showing animals. I showed pigs for ten years and cattle for nine. My main interest, though, was the cattle, which I showed at the county fair, state fair and open shows. It became a part of my life that dominated my summers (and for that matter, most of the school year). Showing cattle demanded a lot of time and a lot of work. In the summer, I would wake up around 6:30 in the morning to go out to the barn and take care of them. This meant getting them inside the barn, washing them, and feeding them before it got hot outside. This process usually took an hour or two every morning depending on how many calves I had at the time. The barn, of course, had to be kept clean to ensure a good living environment. Doing these things helped the calves grow hair, gain weight, and stay healthy. All of this led up to show day, where I would see if my efforts would pay off. I spent more time working in the barn then a lot of people did and it sometimes led to success.

My friends always asked me why I would spend so much time working on this project and why I woke up so early. It was the thrill of winning and the sense of accomplishment that motivated me. I tried to make every show an opportunity to win. I didn’t realize it then, but every summer I was gaining more of a sense of responsibility and learning that if I put forward enough effort, it would pay off in the end. I always thought of 4-H as something I enjoyed doing and not just something my parents forced me to do. 4-H was a great experience where I had a lot of fun and learned some important life lessons.