Snapshots by Gloria Freeland - Sept. 9, 2005

5-H . . . 4-H plus Hilarity!

When I learned about Kansas 4-H celebrating its centennial at the State Fair this coming week, I couldn't help but think about my own involvement when I was a youngster.

I joined 4-H as a fourth-grader and remained active in the club until I graduated from high school. I was a member of the Burns Go-Getters for most of that time, although I also belonged to the City Farmers Club in Winfield when we lived there for three years.

Last weekend, I brought out my various 4-H memorabilia from the top shelf in our storage room. The signature green Kansas 4-H Club Record book came out first. Next were a couple of other notebooks - one for health and one for personal development and then my 4-H Key Award certificate.

A scrapbook bursting at the seams was also part of the collection. Inside were all the red, white, blue and purple ribbons I'd earned at county and state fairs, every letter I'd received related to my 4-H work, photos of projects, and score sheets from the project talks and demonstrations I had given. Seeing all that stuff made me laugh. I guess my packrat tendencies were in full bloom even when I was a youngster!

One of my favorite photos was of hundreds of us at the 45th annual 4-H Club Round-Up at K-State in 1969. We lined up on a lawn to form four H's with a big 4 in the middle.

Reflecting on those experiences documented in the scrapbooks, I realized 4-H influenced my life in many ways. The 4-H pledge I recited at every meeting still comes to me automatically: "I pledge my head to clearer thinking, my heart to greater loyalty, my hands to larger service and my health to better living for my club, my community and my country."

I learned to give presentations, serve in leadership roles, participate in community projects and use parliamentary procedure. I also learned to keep record books, organize my time and meet deadlines - although Mom isn't so sure about the latter. She swears we three kids always waited until the last minute to prepare our fair entries and complete our record books. I do seem to recall several times on the night before the fair that I was baking until well after midnight.

While those general skills have served me well over the years, 4-H also taught me a bit about cooking, sewing, knitting, taking photographs - one of my great passions in life now, identifying insects, improving my health, arranging flowers, doing small remodeling projects and even becoming a better citizen. Perhaps my interest in journalism can be traced to when I was elected the club reporter.

As I was going through the mementos, I told the girls to come look at their Mom at 10, 12, 14, 16, 18. They were interested in reading what was important to me as I gained maturity and confidence.

But they were most interested in the pictures. Most were a source of great merriment, meaning they laughed - at my hairstyles, clothes and glasses. Maybe I should have enrolled them in 4-H when they were young. Then they could have learned to properly respect the memories of us old folks!

Gaila and Gloria prepare baked items (left) and David, Gaila and Gloria with their projects: tomatoes, insect displays, photos and baked goods.

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