Today I am thankful for…My Leadership role through 4-H.
I was lucky to be a part of an incredible organization from the age of 8-18. That organization was 4-H. Through 4-H I learned how to prepare a proper place setting, the parts of a camera, how to use a sewing machine and how to give a public speech with ease…just to name a few. Some kids took dance or did sports but I was not athletic so I put everything I had into 4-H. I went to state and national competitions, worked my butt off and ended up purchasing my first car with my competition earnings.
Not everything in 4-H came easily to me though. I realized that after I received a letter in 2006. The letter was an invitation to serve as the “Echo” for my people group at State 4-H Camp. I had attended State 4-H camp every summer for the 6 years leading up to the letter. I like to compare our way of life at Camp Barnes to that of Hogwarts. Your first year is nerve wracking. You don’t know what to expect, what to bring, and you don’t know what people group you will be placed in. When you arrive on Monday morning you are given your group, the group you will be a part of every year that you return. Each people group has a leader “Voice” and an assistant to the leader who will move up the following year, “Echo”.
It was an honor to be chosen and I should have been ecstatic to receive that particular letter, but I immediately felt sick to my stomach. I was 16 years old- the youngest named Echo for my people group at the time and was still in my awkward/shy phase (still awkward, no so much shy). Being the Echo meant that I would eventually be the Voice. Being the Voice meant I would have 25 kids under my wing, I would make decisions for our group as a whole and I would lead them in all activities including Council Circle. The thought of standing in front of the entire camp and speaking made me nervous. ME, the person who annually participated in the Public Speaking Contest and won 8/10 times. These were my peers, not strangers, and I wanted their approval.
My Echo year came and I barely uttered a word. I was given the superlative for “Quietest Echo” that year. Leading up to my Voice year I was petrified. The week finally came and I remember having a melt down to my Dad on the first night (he was the camp nurse). He suggested I think back to my first years at camp when I looked up to my Voice. They were so cool, they knew all the ropes and everyone knew who they were. I couldn’t let the younger members down. I needed to be a LEADER.
To this day I am thankful for those words of encouragement from him. After that I enjoyed my time as the Voice of the Moon&Stars People Group and stepped out of my comfort zone. I became the person who liked to take the reigns and make things happen. I used the Leader mindset in college almost everyday. I took charge on group projects, held leadership roles in my sorority and eventually had two job offers from the only two companies I interviewed with.
At the end of the day- I am glad that my parents encouraged me to be a member of 4-H. I not only gained skills and knowledge that helps me today but I made friends who I believe will be lifelong friends.