This post was sponsored by the National 4-H Council as part of an Influencer Activation for Influence Central and 4-H Food Smart Families. All opinions expressed in my post are my own.
My 4-H Experience
As a 4-H Alumni, I proudly support the 4-H Food Smart Families. I was active in 4-H from age 8 to age 18, participating in many projects, ranging from Gardening to Baking, Sewing to Range Grass Displays, and Leadership Skills to showing Market Beef Cattle. 4-H was a huge part of my childhood and teenage years, and I’m so thankful for the program and the impact it had on my life.
4-H taught me important life lessons and key values for entering adulthood. I learned that hard work is worth it. Being a leader opens doors for new opportunities. And especially that you should always try to make the best better.
In my many years and projects in 4-H, my favorites were Gardening and Market Beef.
Hard Work Pays Off
Showing cattle was my biggest accomplishment in 4-H, as well as the hardest and most time consuming project. We started months in advance, picking out which animal we thought would be the best for show and meat by judging the herd.
From that moment, we hand fed the steers every morning and night. My brother and I had to calculate the feed rations to determine how much to feed them a day in order for them to gain enough weight for their carcasses to be the best quality. It doesn’t stop there, we also had to put in the hours on my Dad’s farm to get their feed. We helped with many chores and jobs like hauling hay and harvesting corn.
As it got closer to our county fair, we would work with our steers every night to tame them down for the show ring. We brushed them, washed them, and even used a blower (the biggest hair dryer you’ve ever seen) to train their hair to grow nicely for show. We halter broke them and got them used to walking with us. A few of our steers were so tame, you could sit and lay on them!
At fair, we showed our steers in a ring with other 4-H competitors and a judge. There were classes based on Showmanship, Market Beef, and Carcass.
I loved the carcass contest, because it was judged on what’s underneath the skin of the animal, what you can’t see. They used ultrasound machines to determine the quality of the meat on each animal based on things like thickness, marbling, and the grade of the meat. This contest was important to me because it was letting the consumers know that they were getting high quality, home grown meat. A few years I won Champion in this contest, and it was an amazing feeling knowing my hard worked had payed off, and now someone was going to enjoy really good meat, knowing the person who fed the animal.
4-H Helps With Eating Healthy
In the gardening projects, we would help plant the family garden and keep it weeded and watered. Then we had to pick out which vegetables looked best to take to fair.
Besides competing, it also taught us good eating habits. We learned all about the food we were eating, and we helped raise and grow it. It taught us the importance of working hard, and then reaping the benefits, like fresh vegetables and good beef.
4-H is a great program for any youth to join. There are unlimited amounts of projects for everyone! I love that I had the 4-H experience growing up, and I’m so thankful for the things it taught me. 4-H helped mold me into the person I am today; hard working, goal driven, and a leader.
4-H Food Smart Families Helps Youth Make Good Food Choices
4-H Food Smart Families are helping teach youth healthy eating habits, just like how I learned through my 4-H projects. Many children have no idea where their food comes from, let alone how it is grown, or the importance of eating those healthy foods.
The Food Smart Families incorporate the model of “Teens as Teachers”, engaging teens to empower their peers and families today and to help establish life-long healthy habits for their families in the future. When kids are more involved with their food, like growing their own vegetables, they are more likely to enjoy eating them!
The Teens as Teachers help teach youth important skills and behaviors such as shopping smarter and cooking healthier. Their program has had tremendous results with youth involved: 90% of youth participants now think being active is fun and good for fitness, 89% now encourage their families to eat meals together, 87% said their families have purchased healthier foods, and 86% now eat fruit for a snack over unhealthier options.
You can learn more about the 4-H Food Smart Families by visiting their home page, Facebook page, or Twitter page!