This is such an important subject that it needs to be written about every year so we do not overlook its importance. No, it is not my birthday. That was last week. Now that I am a year older and presumably wiser, I will write about this so that no one misses their chance to honor this important happening.
We are entering fair time. Between now and early September, within a short driving distance, all of us will have an opportunity to see a success story that has been going on for years and years. What am I so enthusiastic about? It is those wonderful kids and their leaders that make up the 4-H program.
I encourage everyone to take the time when visiting the fair to see where the future of our country can be found. Go into the barns, arenas, and displays. Do not just stroll through. Stop and watch the weighing, judging, washing, setting up and attention to detail that goes into these projects. Talk to these young people, their parents, their leaders, if they have a few minutes they can visit. It will not take long to see you are standing among the best we have today.
Last year, I attended four county fairs. I enjoyed everything about the fairs from the displays to the entertainment to the food but it was standing in the livestock barns where I saw all the activity and preparation that gave me the biggest impression. How can you not be impressed watching a boy or girl who weighs around 100 pounds using a halter and rope towing a 1,200-pound steer from place to place with the steer obediently following? Those things do not happen by accident.
When I arrived at one of the fairs last year, I walked around to see what was happening and came across the rabbit judging. I had never seen a rabbit event before and since that was what was occurring at that time, I stayed and watched.
I saw that whether it is a steer of over a thousand pounds, a hog or sheep of a hundred or more pounds, or a rabbit of a few pounds, the looks of the judge and the young people who are being judged are the same. Months of care and preparation come to that one moment when judge's hands and eyes evaluate each animal for quality, finish, and appearance.
The competition creates excellence, something that seems to be in short supply today.
I cannot praise our 4-H members without including praise about their leaders. At one fair last year, the county extension director told me about their poultry entries. He said that many times the poultry division occupies a small space in the fair because of a smaller number of entries. At their fair, they were filling one small building and looking to expand because of the growing numbers of entries. Why? It was because the leader instilled enthusiasm in the projects of these young people. It was also a project that suited those 4-H members living in town where space was limited. Success begins with leadership.
You can see our best young people standing in T-shirts, shorts and probably rubber boots not looking all that neat at that moment getting ready for their next event while a parent or leader watches near by.