Have you been thinking of enrolling your child in an extracurricular activity but don’t know which to choose? Well, 4-H may be the perfect solution for your family. 4-H has so many different programs to pick from and is sure to satisfy your kid’s needs. From raising animals to photography to baking, the options are endless.
To provide useful information to new 4-H parents, we asked parents/ guardians of a 4-H student to tell us a little about their experience. Laura Howe was one of many mothers to take this opportunity to spread the word about this great organization. Below are her thoughts on being a part of the 4-H family.
Tell us a little bit about you and your family.
Hi, my name is Laura Howe! My husband Rick and I have one daughter, Morgan, who is 17 and a senior this year. We live in Weatherford, Texas, on about 6 acres in what used to be the country, but neighborhoods are popping up quickly. I am originally from Keller, where I was a 4-H member from age 8-18. We moved to Azle when my daughter was 3. She has always been in Azle schools, even when we moved to Weatherford.
How long has your child been involved with 4-H?
My daughter Morgan got involved in 4-H when she was about 12 in 2015 after we moved to Weatherford and had some space for her to have a project. We have also done 4-H with two different counties! We started in Parker County, but she knew she would also want to be involved in FFA, so when Azle ISD moved to Tarrant County, then so did we. She decided she wanted to be involved in 4-H when we went to the Stock Show to watch a friend’s daughter show her lambs. She has been hooked on them ever since.
How did you hear about 4-H, and why did you decide to enroll your child in this organization?
I was heavily involved in 4-H as a kid. Our neighbors were 4-H leaders, and their daughter happened to be my best friend. I had always hoped that my daughter would want to get involved in 4-H as well. When she expressed interest, I ran with it! She definitely grew up hearing all of my fun stories! “Mom, where did you learn to sew?” 4-H “Mom, where did you learn to cook?”4-H, etc….
What 4-H projects does your child participate in?
My daughter shows lambs as her project. She has also done shooting sports, horse judging, and photography. She has been Club Reporter, and the latest office has been President 2 years in a row.
Has your child participated in and/ or won any contests? If so, what contests were they?
My daughter has won numerous contests. A few I am most proud of is her 15th Place Individual Reasons from her 1st Horse Judging Contest (mainly because as a kid, I hated to give reasons, so I was impressed!). She was 4th place this past year and made the sale at the State Fair of Texas. She was also Breed Champion at her county show and won Showmanship.
What is the time commitment per month?
Her monthly commitment is pretty heavy. She has 5 lambs this year and works daily with each one, and feeds them every morning and evening. I would say daily she spends about 2 ½ to 3 hours with her lambs each day. She attends monthly meetings and also attends a monthly County Youth Council meeting at the Extension office. My daughter’s main focus is the 4-H projects; she doesn’t play sports so she can focus her time.
What type of monetary commitment does it require for your child’s projects?
The monetary commitment varies on the project. There are projects that don’t require near as much of a monetary investment. It is all up to each family. We invested $700 in her first project, and as she makes the sales with her projects, she reinvests that money in the next year’s projects. This year she had a budget of $6000 to spend on projects, and her father and I invested another $2000 for an additional lamb since it was her senior year. We will do about two shows a month starting this month and will have hotel and entry fees. We also use two bags of feed per week. It is a significant investment, but 4-H helps raise good kids and future leaders, so it is all worth it. Again there are tons of projects that don’t require such a significant monetary commitment.
What goals do you have for your child during her 4-H career?
We discuss our goals each year when we go to buy lambs and plan on which shows she wants to attend. Some are goals related to competition, and some are goals related to experience. No matter what happens in the show ring, we always learn things along the way and spend family time together.
What role do you play in 4-H as an adult leader?
I am the 4-H Club Manager of our local club. It’s a very small club, but we enjoy being a part of it.
What is your favorite memory from your child’s time with 4-H?
I have so many memories that I can’t think of one “best” one. But the times I enjoy the most are her and I being on the road traveling to a show or camp, and just talking. We talk about showing future plans, memories, college, boys, and life in general, and those are the best times.
What advice do you have for new 4-H parents?
The advice I would like to give to new parents is to be involved! Lead a project. It will be worth the time spent with these kids. Clubs die without volunteers, and it would be a shame not to have these programs for our kids to learn about not only Agriculture but Public Speaking, Culinary, Photography, Archery, Shooting Sports, Sewing, and Robotics, just to name a few. 4-H has endless possibilities for learning and leading. The 4-H program raised me, and I am happy to say it raised my daughter as well. These kids are definitely our future leaders.
The Howe’s are just one example of a family who has benefited from 4-H. It is an excellent organization for children and teenagers alike.
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