My friend Judi and I discussed plans for our club: delegating, decorating, and, of course, our talks almost always lead to food. Having been in the business of food all her life, Judi catered my wedding (just a few years back) and is now often in charge of church dinners and our club’s holiday tea. She described her “magic bread dough” recipe as a versatile dough you can do anything with. We reminisced about when and where we started baking. We learned that, along with our mothers’ help, 4-H was the catalyst that provided us with our first baking practice.
The projects I completed in 4-H have helped me all my life. My three-year membership was short compared to some of my teenage friends and some of Mark’s cousins who went on to become junior leaders on a state level. I’ve always been sorry that my girls never joined 4-H.
One local club, called the “Rambunctious Rabbit Raisers”, met closest to us. That name alone made me want to join. I’ve mentioned before that I have a “thing” for rabbits. Of course, I hoped one of my daughters would take care of a rabbit as a 4-H project so I could enjoy fringe benefits. Nothing doing.
“You’re the one who wants to raise a rabbit, Mom,” they’d tell me. I was never rambunctious enough to join.
When Kathie enjoyed the treats and endured the trials of Girl Scout Camp Sugarbush in Kinsman, Ohio, the practical domestic knowledge that I’d found in 4-H wasn’t exactly in the foreground.
My 4-H projects included bread baking, making pies and pastries, basic sewing, completing a two-piece outfit, and early childcare. These same things that might be included in a home economics class in school have been cut from our school’s curriculum.
Longtime postmistress at the Elkton, Ohio, post office, Evelyn Baker was a wonderful adviser to my 4-H club, the “Elkton Merry Maids”. Now, I’ve missed any cue I might have taken to be involved as a 4-H parent. Will I be willing to take time as a grandparent? Time will tell.
Money will tell, too. With the loss of all county appropriations, the 4-H program in my own Columbiana County was scaled back to basic operations. A large fundraising effort was made to be able to continue 4-H at all. With no funding to teach basic home skills in our school and no funding from our county to promote those skills, is it any wonder kids today don’t show the common sense of past generations?
For the first time in its 105-year history, the National 4-H Curriculum Summit took an in-depth look at how it meets the educational and developmental needs of our nation’s young people. The summit was a first step toward reshaping the nation’s oldest youth development organization, which reaches youth through its 4-H camps, 4-H After School and within 4-H community clubs.
My club enriched me. I can only hope our 4-H program will be enriched by adequate funding and the support of people like us.
For more information collected during the National 4-H Curriculum Summit visit www.4-hcurriculum.org.