Our Rural Roots

That's a 4-H Wrap!

(Jennifer Campbell)

We did it. We completed three 10-year 4-H careers.

I should say our children did, but I really mean "we" in the broader sense of the word. 4-H may be a youth organization, but without parents, mentors, volunteers and last-minute conveniences like one-hour photo printing it just wouldn't be possible.

We didn't walk away with a closet full of purple banners or rosettes. As a matter of fact, if I'm being completely honest, my husband, Chris, and I are just happy we walked away still married and speaking to each other. Apparently, I'm a little intense sometimes, but I digress.

In total, the family spanned 17 consecutive years of 4-H club work. We learned to work hard and compete, but not always win. We learned the art of losing gracefully, to congratulate other winners, and when we did win, to do it with humility. We learned to work as a family.

We finished with a Don Smock livestock award winner, a two-time Herdsman Award winner, one rate of gain winner, a two-time Master Showman competitor, a multiple-year state tractor driving competitor, three 4-H Honor Group projects and three 4-H Ambassadors. We have boxes of ribbons, and the colors don't matter because they hold a million memories.

I will miss it. Sitting in my porch swing at the Johnson County (Indiana) Fair was a highlight of my summer. Yes, I hung my porch swing in the cattle barn at the fairgrounds every year. Watching my kids work, laugh, eat all the fair food, fall asleep exhausted in a lawn chair while filthy dirty was life affirming. But, I'm ready to move on to whatever is next.

Our county fair is amazing. Hats off to our hard-working fair board, hats off to the always-on-the-clock Extension office. Hats off to the next generation of 4-Hers and helpers -- may it benefit as much as we did.


-- Jennifer (Jent) Campbell can be found dancing to her own tune from her Indiana farm, where she writes a blog called Farm Wife Feeds (farmwifefeeds.com). Follow her on Twitter @plowwife and on the podcast @girlstalkag.