How I amp up my 4-H experience

Caydence Billiter and Reni Hoffman volunteer at the Kansas State Fair.

How do I increase my already awesome 4-H experience? I volunteer at the Kansas State Fair. It is a long day, up at 6:15 a.m., leaving town at 7:30, and not arriving back home until 10:30 at night.  But what I gain from the time is well worth it.

This year I volunteered in the Geology and Entomology departments. In Geology, I worked side by side with fellow 4-Her’s checking in the collection boxes, delivering the boxes to the judges and placing the boxes out for display once they were judged. In the Entomology department, I again checked in collection boxes, but from there, things got a little more complicated. Once the boxes were checked in, I assisted in counting all the orders, families and each individual specimen in the box, ensuring that the number listed by the entrance slip matched my totals. This is no easy task; some collections are more than 450 bugs! Once judging was finished, I totaled the judges’ score sheet and assisted the judges in collecting score sheets and placing ribbon award seals on the boxes.

So how did a full day of work increase my 4-H experience? It wasn’t the actual work that amped me up; it was everything else I encountered while working. I gained knowledge in both departments. I learned new techniques for displaying my rocks, pinning my bugs and labeling all my specimens. It allowed me to see what rocks and bugs other 4-H members are collecting, giving me insight into what area in Kansas they are finding specimens, and what time of year the insects are found. Looks like we will be planning some family trips! 

I gained knowledge by watching and listening to the judges — knowledge that only someone with 30 or more years of experience has. 

But the greatest gift I gained was new friends; friends that share the same interest and love for 4-H and specific projects that I do; friends who are willing to help one another and want to see each other succeed. 

Lastly, I gained pride in myself and in my ability. I am proud of the service I gave each department, and I am proud of my project work as a 4-H member. Of course, receiving a purple in both Geology and Entomology helped amp up my excitement!

If you are in 4-H, I encourage you to volunteer at the state fair. If you are not in 4-H, I encourage you to go to a meeting and see what 4-H has to offer. I challenge you to be like me: be 4-H Proud, gain 4-H Knowledge and grow in 4-H Leadership.

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