Head, Heart, Hands, Health: How 4-H Enhances My Life

Have you ever recited words of a pledge or prayer or creed without truly considering their relevance to your life? We often say the words, believe the words and integrate them into our lifestyle without stopping to consider the true nature of their influence. Today I’m partnering with 4-H to discuss how the 4-H pledge has had a positive influence in my life and with my family and community! All thoughts, opinions are love of the 4-H program are my own.

I pledge my head to clearer thinking, my heart to greater loyalty, my hands to larger service, and my health to better living, for my club, my community, my country and my world.

The 4-H Pledge is something I learned early on when I first started participating as a 4-H volunteer. While I’ve always loved the sentiments of this important pledge, after years of involvement with the program, I have a deeper appreciation for the relevance of these words in all aspects of my life.

Pledge my head to clearer thinking

As the years have passed, it has become more and more important to me to stay focused in the moment and clear my mind of stresses and distractions. As a result, my quality of life has improved dramatically and I’m able to live in a centered place of joy and gratitude, which I can then share with others around me. It also helps me focus and make better decisions as decisions made from a place of clarity are generally far better than the ones we may make, otherwise.

I wish I realized this when I was younger! With school, work, family and the zillion-plus-one responsibilities we gain throughout our lifetime, it’s easy to lose track of the present. This unfortunately can lead to stress-related problems and cause us to lose focus and miss out on the simple joys of our lives. I love that 4-H encourages clearer thinking for our youth. This life skill will not only help prepare them for leadership roles where quick-decision making can have tremendous impact but also to live better, simpler lifestyles that are conducive to improving their overall happiness and health.

Pledge my heart to greater loyalty

Perhaps it’s because I come from an Irish family that honored family loyalty and kinship, or maybe a quality of my star-sign, Taurus, whatever way you choose to view it, I have an innate appreciation for loyalty and integrity in people. These are also two of the inherent qualities you will find in any great leader. Isn’t that what we want from all of our friendships or relationships – loyalty and honesty? In return to supporting these attributes, I’ve found 4-H leaders to return them full-fold to their communities. In fact, I think you always recognize a 4-H leader by their ability to be forthright nature and willingness to be supportive of everyone and every program they interact with.

Pledge my hands to larger service

Working as a volunteer with a variety of 4-H programs including preparatory classes for state fair competitions and our local 4-H cooking club has been such a rewarding experience that it influenced me to take the next step and serve as a 4-H Camp Counselor this year. I’m incredibly excited to have the opportunity to increase my involvement to help with this fabulous summer program and to work with children in new counties, as well as my own. My oldest son is taking on his first 4-H leadership as a Junior Counselor and I’m proud to be able to serve alongside him and be able to continue to witness his leadership development first person.

I’ve always believed in giving back to my community and the world-at-large. When you are working with a group of individuals who live by a pledge that echoes the same values, it truly reinforces your mission and motivates to push harder, do more and ultimately, the effect is that much more wide-spread than anything I could possibly accomplish on my own. The adage that “many hands make light work” is so pertinent here. Together we have such a great impact but the load does not feel heavy when you are all united in a common goal!

Pledge my health to better living

This is an area I admittedly waned in for some time. I’ve certainly been a huge supporter of farm-to-table, exercise and overall healthy habits but after having a life-threatening illness and surgery last year, it truly brought home the reality of how very important protecting and improving our health and well-being can be! To start our youth out on the right track with quality programs that support this imporant factor of our lives is crucial and I’m so glad that 4-H places a high value on health to ensure a better quality of living.

For my club, my country and my world

Ultimately we are stewards of the earth and responsible to our world to ensure we provide the best possible scenario for our future generations. I’ve been known to say and fully believe “we are ultimately defenders, maintainers, and supporters of life!” In every aspect of 4-H, I find that I am in complete alignment with this sentiment. The programs enrich the lives of everyone involved and have a residual positive effect on the world.

This piece of the 4-H Pledge is a lovely reminder to be conscientious of our role not only in 4-H and to our community, but to our country and the entire world. Our words and actions can have a long-lasting positive impact. Every time I say or see these words it encourages me to do more and do better by my children, our world and our next generations.

Are you familiar with 4-H? What part of the 4-H Pledge has been the most relevant in your life?

As part of the Grow True Leaders Campaign, give a shout out to recognize a young leader in your life and use the hashtag #TrueLeaders to help spread the importance of teaching our kids leadership skills!

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of 4-H. The opinions and text are all mine.

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Barb Webb. Founder and Editor of Rural Mom, is an the author of "Getting Laid" and "Getting Baked". A sustainable living expert nesting in Appalachian Kentucky, when she’s not chasing chickens around the farm or engaging in mock Jedi battles, she’s making tea and writing about country living and artisan culture.
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    • Mary
    • June 14, 2016

    What a great tribute! Had no idea that 4-H offered so much!

    • Eileen
    • July 8, 2016

    What beautiful and powerful words! You can actually feel the responsibility when reciting these words. I love volunteering and have always strived to do as much as I could myself and to teach my children its importance. They have all chosen to volunteer in different places and I’m very proud they did. So cool that you are a Camp Counselor! And it will be nice to be there besides your child; now that’s a powerful example he’s going to get.

  1. Reply

    I’m a former 4-Her and loved your column about it. All true. As an adult I now realize what an impact this organization had on keeping kids grounded and centered. Plus, I learned skills that have helped my career to this day: Cooking, sewing, writing, record-keeping, animal husbandry, leadership . . . I could go on and on. Both of my parents were leaders and I belonged from age 9 to 17. Great experience, and I highly recommend it. Great piece – keep up the good work!

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