Well, here we are in October! When I think of October I think of shorter days, vineyard harvest, and colorful fall leaves. Normally we begin to think about Halloween at the end of the month, then start to make plans for Thanksgiving meals, and then begin making plans for Christmas which I swear starts appearing sooner every year! However, the first thing that comes to mind when I start to see the leaves change and the fog sticks around longer in the mornings is that 4-H meetings have begun. This is the time of year that kids are hopefully meeting their new projects leaders.
I was in Canfield 4-H for 10 years growing up. I remember clear as day meeting at Hessle Grange, very shy and not knowing a lot of people. I grew so much throughout those 10 years. I helped in office positions, made friends that I still have to this day, and got to experience things that have made me who I am today. 4-H gives kids the opportunity to learn hard work, dedication, get involved in agriculture at a level they are not offered in school.
Something really fun for me about being in Canfield 4-H as an adult is that I now sit on boards with my past leaders. And even more special- I have had the opportunity to be the dairy leader for their grandkids. For example, Judy Buttke was my CCC leader growing up and now I am very involved in helping prepare candidates for the Dairy Princess competition. Judy is the ring leader of that program. Dominic and Lynda Carnalli and Jim were my dairy leaders growing up and now I have the honor of sitting with Domenic on the Sonoma County Farm Bureau Board of Directors.
These people have left very significant marks on my life and helped me shape my passions. The heart they have for 4-H made me want to be involved in the organization just as much as they are. I knew that as I finished my time with Canfield that I wanted to continue to give back to 4-H.
I became the swine leader at Tri-Valley because I wanted to be able to help out my cousins, but that quickly turned into a large group of kids all looking for a bit of direction. I had just graduated from high school but I knew that these kids needed someone to help them and pass along a passion for 4-H. As they learned the ins and outs of 4-H, I learned alongside them.
After college, I began to help my friend’s son with his project and then was asked to be the Two Rock dairy leader. I, of course, said yes and within 4 years the project has grown from 10 kids to almost 30. I have enjoyed giving back what was given to me during my 4-H experience. My love for the dairy industry has made me do anything to make sure these kids can show and learn about dairy. I have driven as far south as Tulare for a show and as far northwest to Boonville to bring animals for kids to show. I may do more than your typical dairy leader, but when you see the light in the kids’ eyes when they have placed 1st in showmanship, won Champion, or in my most recent experience, watched 2 of my members walk out in front of spectators with their animals in the Mendocino County Fair parade of champions to show off their animals in the rain, it’s worth the long hours and the extra time we as leaders put in. So for anyone on the fence about being a leader I highly recommend it. For anyone debating on getting their kids involved in 4-H I highly recommend that as well. What your child will get out of the program is one of the best experiences in life they will ever have.