Dear the parents of 4H & FFA members,
I know you are probably at the point in your life where you are wondering, “Why in the world did I volunteer to do this?” I know that you were probably just named the club leader of a project animal you know NOTHING about and now you are expected to attend leaders meeting and organize rambunctious children who just want to get into things they don’t want to get into.
You are probably somewhere in the middle of deciding which is more fun; grating your forehead on a cheese grater or harassing one more kid to get their records done? You may have also just spent a solid five minutes gathering your thoughts so that you didn’t yell TOO much at the youngster who left their blue corduroy jacket tossed casually over the side of a pen because they wanted to “go play with their friends.”
Your patience is tried.
You feel lost and confused.
You don’t know what to do.
You’re the parent of a kid in 4H or FFA.
You work long hours just to come home to try and make sure the animals are taken care of and that the kids are ready to go to their meeting. You sacrifice your kids’ time at home during harvest season just so that they can go to a fun summer conference with all their friends and meet other kids who are just like them, but from different schools and counties.
You take local business owners out to coffee, telling them about your kids, their animals, and the upcoming county auction in the hopes that one of them will buy your child’s animal for a high price adding to their college fund. You bake cookies to take to previous years’ buyers and you harp on your child’s handwriting as you make them write thank you note after thank you note.
Then there are the long days at fair. You’ve busted your butt all year long to finally get both kid and animal to fair in a somewhat presentable shape and then they want you to volunteer. They want you to scribe for the judge, break up fighting pigs in market class with a flimsy pig board or water sprayer, or maybe even set up and take down the show rings. They ask for more and more from you but yet you stay.
You stay up long nights, helping with a speech, prepping your child for an interview and helping them face their fears of being in front of so many people. You make sure the shirt is ironed just so, the pants starched with a crease that could cut butter, and yet they don’t always say thank you. Your poor child is too scared about facing their demons of large crowds and critical judges in the ultimate test of their high school career and yet you do all of this without complaint and anxiously say “good luck” as they walk away from the car.
Because, at the end of the day, you have created one of the most honorable American citizens that you could create. You taught your child about the importance of records, of caring for a life, for giving your all but keeping good sportsmanship when you don’t win. You held their hand as they had growing pains learning how to work with leaders and be responsible. You smiled from the crowd as they found their voice in front of thousands of people to spread the message of what they are passionate about. You cheered the loudest when they were awarded their last pin for their last year, partially because you were glad that you were done, but mainly because you know what that pin signifies. You just spent the craziest decades of your life as a 4H or FFA parent.
Because you gave your child the ability to fight for their family, their future, their country and their livelihood. Today, so many farmers and ranchers are battling legislature that is trying to halt who they are in their very essence, who their family was, and what their future is! But YOU, as the parent, gave them the tools that they need to have a voice, to be heard.
With 4H and FFA on their resume, you have given these farmers and ranchers the opportunity to fight for their land.
So, from every single 4H or FFA kid out there, we say THANK YOU mom and dad for your hours of tireless dedication to help us be the kind of person to fight for the future of our livelihood.
Your FFA & 4H Child