Written By Will Eubanks, Florida 4-H State Council Reporter
As I’m finishing out my 13th year as a 4-H member, I’m reflecting back on all the things that I’ve gained. My entire childhood is wrapped up in 4-H and it has provided so much to me. Here are ten things that I’ve gained from the 4-H program, but the list could be much longer.
- Appreciation for the Natural World
I started out as a 5 year old Cloverbud showing rabbits and chickens and went on to show swine, steers, heifers, and goats at the Alachua County Youth Fair and the Florida State Fair. In 3rd grade, I joined the forestry team and fell in love with the environmental education project. I went on to participate in the entomology project as well and eventually competed at the National 4-H Forestry Invitational. All of these experiences gave me a strong appreciation for the natural world.
- A Chance to Learn
Over the years, I have tried almost every project I could think of in 4-H including livestock, art, tailgating, shooting sports, marine science, leadership, and so many more. One of the things I love about 4-H is that if you have an interest, 4-H has a project area for you. And, if there isn’t an official project area, your leader will probably create one for you!
- Adults Who Invest in Me
4-H might be a youth development organization, but it’s only that way because of the adults involved. My 4-H leaders, coaches, volunteers, and agents have invested so much time into me over the years. I truly appreciate the time and effort these adults have given to see each 4-H member grow and “make the best better.”
I have had the opportunity to travel all around the country for 4-H experiences. I have been a delegate at national events, competed nationally, attended leadership conferences, and more. 4-H has exposed me to different places and taught me to travel by myself. I’ve even had international experiences with 4-H. Travelling with 4-H has opened my eyes to so much more and made me a more independent person.
- Service-Focused Living
“Hands to Larger Service.” Growing up in a service minded organization has given me a desire to help others. I know that I will always look for ways that I can volunteer and improve the world around me because I grew up participating in service through 4-H.
- Recognizing and Appreciating Diversity
4-H has more than 7 million members worldwide and we all are so different. From ethnicity to projects to gender, there’s a place for you in 4-H. One of the things I love about 4-H is that 4-H members are always so welcoming and really focus on making sure everyone feels like they belong.
One tangible gain that I’ve received from 4-H is college scholarships. Not only does 4-H provide generous scholarships, but my 4-H leadership and citizenship experiences provide a strong resume for other scholarships. College is expensive and I’m so thankful for the scholarships 4-H has provided to me either directly or indirectly.
- Professional Skills
As I’ve gotten older and started applying to colleges and jobs, I have realized the importance of the professional skills that 4-H has taught me. I’m able to speak publicly, talk with adults, run a business meeting, interview for jobs, and write a resume. So, the important message here is to continue doing your record books, county events demonstrations, and senior portfolios. They may not be fun, but those skills are some of the most important you’ll take away from 4-H.
- Friends Who are Family
My 4-H family has grown over the years to include friends all over the state and country. I wouldn’t be who I am today without them. They mean the world to me and my 4-H experience has been amazing because of them.
- My Passion and Future
Finally, 4-H helped me find my passion and my future. Anyone who knows me knows I love camp and the outdoors. After spending every summer at Camp Cherry Lake, I know that I want to provide that same experience to other young 4-Hers. I want them to be inspired by the outdoors, find a place they can be themselves at camp, and try new things. So, I’ll be pursuing a natural resource conservation degree with an ag education minor, and I plan to be a camp naturalist one day.
Will Eubanks is serving as the 2020-2021 Florida 4-H State Council Reporter. As a 13-year member of Micanopy Friendship 4-H in Alachua County, Will has led leadership activities at the state, national, and international levels. His favorite 4-H projects have been entomology, forestry, civic engagement, leadership, and camp. Through 4-H, Will found his passion for camp and the amazing benefits it has for youth. He will be attending ABAC in fall 2021 for a natural resource conservation degree and plans to be a camp naturalist and eventually a camp director. His goal is to inspire youth in nature…while kayaking and singing around the campfire.