My days in 4-H seem so long ago, yet they are with me every day. At the time, my 4-H projects were activities I enjoyed and wanted to learn more about. Today, those lessons are exactly what I hold onto to protect myself and my country.
When I started in 4-H, I didn’t really think 4-H had anything to offer me, after all I was in the seventh grade. I was not going to cook and sew like my mother did in her 4-H days. But my adviser took time to ask me what I liked to do and then suggested a few projects.
I chose the gun safety project. I advanced to the state fair where I found out I took second place…behind a girl! That made me mad.
The judge told me that I knew all my material, but I lacked the confidence to answer quickly and keep eye contact.
Suddenly, echoing in my head, was how my adviser had told me that her face was not on my shoes and that it’s OK to look an adult in the eye. She told me it shows confidence in my answers.
That was the beginning of the person I am today. In boot camp, my plan was to just be a quiet person in the back and get through all this.
However, my leadership skills I learned through 4-H couldn’t help but surface and it wasn’t long before I was a squad leader.
The new Army training in problem solving as a group came easy for me because of my leadership opportunities in 4-H as a member, officer, camp counselor and Morrow County Junior Fair board member.
After boot camp, I was informed that I had further training to go through because I was chosen for the special duty of guarding anyone from a lieutenant colonel to a general. At first, I thought this was a dumb job and I was angry, that my hard work was keeping me from the front line.
Then it dawned on me that I was chosen to do one of the most important jobs — protect our leaders at all costs. Wow, and to think I can thank 4-H for guiding me into becoming someone the country expects nothing but the best from.
I believe I have fulfilled the 4-H motto: To Make the Best Better.
Pvt. Gabriel Snyder
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