A child cannot have too many people who love them and want to help them succeed. That’s been my motivation to come to work every day. 4-H provides opportunities and enables youth to succeed, to be winners in life.
Find something you love to do and you’ll never have to work a day in your life describes the many years guiding 4-H youth, families and volunteers as they learn and achieve… and achieve they did! During 44 years, children have grown up to have their own children, and the blessings just kept coming, getting to know and work with so many of you.
Something you might not know about me… the Gage County Fair in July of 1976 was my first day of work, hired by Vaughn Domeier to continue building the 4-H program here for youth and families. I am a Kansas 4-H alumni of the Country Cousins 4-H Club in McPherson County, Kansas, a highlight for my family growing up in central Kansas. I knitted brown slippers (still my least favorite color but they wouldn’t show dirt), hard boiled eggs (hard to believe that was a county fair exhibit), sewed clothes that never looked as good as the pattern envelope, modeled in a hot outdoor county fair building, won a county photography pin, learned that baking soda or baking powder do make a difference in the recipe, and built a community with those families for fun and learning. I got my share of non-purple ribbons but I know that’s where a portion of my work ethic was derived.
Digging through my desk and files brought up my June 2002 news column presenting the lessons ribbon colors teach for life. Purple, of course, is the color of choice, the best, excellence, a winner, pride and happiness. And red or white ribbons, thumbs down, near disaster, embarrassment, the thought comes to mind to bury those nasty ribbons. These colors teach us to be good winners, good losers and good people, lessons for life.
What astounding purple ribbon success stories I am fortunate to be a part of… from Clover Kids and PeeWee showmen (no matter their age) who could not wait to show their first calf, horse, or pig, to hatching chicks or making bread in a bag in the schools, to the awards and scholarships won by fabulous kids through the years. And the pinnacle of 4-H – National 4-H Congress – a record to top all statewide, I think, is the 91 youth in Gage County who were awarded the trip during my tenure. I knew we were building a tradition of excellence, and I learned very soon how successful our 4-H members were and still are today! So proud of all of you!
I have partnered with, learned from and networked with the legends, the greats: Paul, Larry and Kay – champions all! We would have put our team up against any state Extension team as we lived with and worked with our youth, adults, and community to make a difference, to make the best better.
I am proud to be a part of 4-H to provide a training ground for champions in the arena and in life skills, character, and personal development. We have dreamed big, expected success, embraced failure.
We impacted youth in too many events and years to count: Earth Festival, Day on the Farm, citizenship trip, fashion show, speech contest, workshops, county fairs, camps, Quilts of Valor, State Fair, Achievement celebration, community service projects, School Enrichment, after school classes, and more.
And suddenly you just know that it’s time to start something new and trust the magic of beginnings. I hope 4-H continues to be a viable entity for families, volunteers and this community. I have had the best and made it better. Success is about achievements and having a meaningful, positive impact on the lives of others.
I challenge each of us to do something caring and unexpected every day. Help someone, encourage someone, make a difference every day without asking for anything in return. It will help the other person; it will do wonders for you. Dream big. Work hard. Give back.
My friend just added this quote to my library, knowing it is the way we live, “The past is your lesson. The present is your gift. The future is your motivation.”
As I look back on the joys of the job, working with thousands of the best kids and families, sharing life skills, passing along the value of character, making a difference to 4-H families and this community. I am proud to be a part of building grit, confidence, courage, happiness and perseverance. The friends I’ve made over the years are priceless! I thank you for your part in my journey. Thanks for the overwhelming kind words and the memories!