Today, if you haven’t heard, is National Show Your 4-H Colours day — a day for current and former 4-H Canada members to wear green and white and show off their 4-H pride. As I donned my Roughriders shirt (2 birds, one-stone!) this morning, I got to thinking about my 4-H years and how they shaped a love and passion for this industry.
I wasn’t even 5 when I was hauled off to my first 4-H show. My family ran a small goat dairy — raising Alpines and Saanens — and as the kids were born, they were assigned to one of us human kids (three girls, my brother was a newborn at the time). Come 4-H show season, it was time to don our whites and try, in vain usually, to walk our assigned goat kids around the ring. Being the youngest of the bunch, I usually just walked a tiny goat around, got my yellow participation ribbon with a dollar bill attached, and promptly ran off to find the nearest horse, much to my mother’s frustration, I’m sure.
Our 4-H goat group was named Just Kidding (apparently wit is inherited? Let’s go with that), and I have many fond memories of very early mornings, road trips pulling our homemade trailer and goat show punch, a heady mix of raspberry and grape juice and lemonade. And while goats were the main 4-H group my family was involved with, it wasn’t the only as Dad taught wood-working and mechanics. My older sisters took sewing, awkwardly modeling their hankerchief shirts and burlap sack wall hangings (at least it wasn’t the other way around).
By the time I turned 12, the goats were gone but my love of horses remained, and I joined 4-H again, this time with a borrowed horse and shows that mostly involved praying your horse wouldn’t spook in the parade and a few classes involving flags that I was never very good at.
4-H, then, was a key part of my farm experience growing up. As an adult, when I meet new friends in the agriculture industry, we often share stories of our 4-H days, what we learned and how it shaped a community for us. We fondly remember favourite show animals and prized steers, proud moments and accomplishments, as I’m doing today with you.
So tell me more. What is your favourite 4-H memory?