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Treat Your Goals Like an Apple Tree

The Nassau County annual 4-H Banquet is just around the corner. During this wonderful night youth, club leaders, community partners, and volunteers are recognized for their excellent efforts and service. Project reports come back with a grade and accompanying ribbon, certificates are awarded, and as a group we collectively celebrate another great year in 4-H.

However, sometimes participants are left with a few dissatisfied questions…

  • “Why did I get a red ribbon instead of a blue?”
  • “Why wasn’t I nominated for 4-Her of the Year?”
  • “Why did my club not receive a Standards of Excellence Award?”
  • “What makes him/her a better club leader?”


Self reflection in of itself is not a bad thing! The incorrect reaction is to take these self-reflective moments and fall victim rather than cultivate ambitions.

So let’s plant a tree.

We live in a world where we want instant gratification- a microwave society. In reality, good character and achievements are not made overnight and thus demands patience and hard work; like planting a tree.

When we plant an apple tree we start with a seed. We have to choose the right place to plant the seed (such as a quality 4-H environment). We then tuck away the seed and water it frequently. We will pick away the weeds and continue to nurture it. At this point do we have an apple yet? No. So this is the first point of frustration! We want our results and yet all our good work is hidden beneath the ground. What we can’t see are roots forming and our seed is sprouted to become stronger. So we must wait and continue to water, pick weeds, and care for our seed. At some point it will emerge from the soil a small sapling. We see glimpses of our hard work but still no have no apples.

If we look at our product at this point it is easy to give up. If you stopped watering your sapling or picking out the weeds what will happen to your young tree? What does that say about all the time and effort you put in up to this point?

Don’t give up. Keep up the hard work and in time you will have a strong tree! It may still take years for your tree to bear fruit but in the meantime you have oxygen, shade, and evidence that your patience and care is working. When you finally harvest your apple it will be sweet and you will have pride. Your pride will be in more than just simply getting an apple; your pride will be in your journey.

Think of your ribbons, your recognition, and your goals like an apple. Enjoy the journey and with good care and effort you will have your apple moment.

Resist the urge to microwave your character.

To learn more about Nassau County’s 4-H program and opportunities for your family to grow wonderful characters call us at 904-530-6353 or visit us on Facebook.