Have you ever been among people who are very much like you? That it does not matter what differences you have you all have a lot more in common. A member of 4-H constitutes a discourse community because of an agreed set of common public goals, level of membership, and something that provides information and feedback.
An agreed set of public goals for our community is that as a whole group we do a lot of community service. For a couple of years my club would go to a nursing home and do different activities with the elderly. Whether it be making them sun catchers to hang in their windows or play board and card games with them. It was very surprising my first year to find out that a lot of the elderly in nursing homes never get visitors. This made me very sad. So my club took a vote and decided to keep going back month after month and building a bond with these amazing people. I loved sitting around talking with them and hearing about all the different stories each of them had to tell. Another community service my group did was that we went to different parks right as spring began and we would plant beautiful flowers for everyone to enjoy.
Something we do that provides information or feedback would be putting on our fair. Not only at a county fair are there rides, carnival games, and carnival food; but also all the hard work each 4-Her has put in to the projects they have to complete to be a part of the group. There are so many different projects, from livestock to sewing to cooking to robotics to duct tape art to the shooting sports. Over the years, I have taken many projects from all areas in our project guide, but my favorite has been the self-determined projects. While having four years left in the program I really wanted to find a project that I truly loved and enjoyed doing.
All my friends had their favorite and I wanted mine, so me and mom were looking through the project guide and we found a self-determined project on American Sign Language. I was so happy because this was a great interest of mine, and something I was looking in to doing for my career. By taking this project for four years it had helped me make a final decision on what I wanted to go to college for. I was right, I have a great passion for American Sign Language and learning about the deaf community.
The level of membership in 4-H does not have anything to do with your knowledge or experience. For most people like myself, we got started in 4-H at the age of five being a cloverbud. I got to go to the club meetings, participate in them, do activities with older members, and even take a project to the fair if I wanted to, but it just did not get judged. At the age of eight I became a first year 4-Her. I got to take any project(s) I wanted, and gave me a good feeling that I got to pick what I wanted to do. I took a market lamb, sewing for beginners, and cooking project. I had so much fun working with my grandma on my sewing project but learnt at the age of eight that it was not something I liked to do. I cooked with my mom and found I really enjoy to cook. Working on my market lamb with my older sister was probably the best of all my first year experiences. I never took another livestock project throughout my fifteen years in 4-H though. I could not handle sending an animal to its death after I had spent endless amounts of time with it.
When I turned eleven I became a junior member and when I did my projects I was expected to do more with in them. As I got older in this world I took on more responsibility and helped out around the fair. I even was royalty my first year as a junior member. I had the honor of being the fairs princess in two-thousand and six. So there is where the new responsibility came from, but it was a lot of fun. I had to dress nice and look cute which was the one thing I absolutely hated, especially having to do it at fair. At the age of sixteen I became a senior member, which meant even more responsibilities and a better work ethic. When I get to judging for my projects they expected great work, completed books, that I had done all the activities in the books, and that I took a good amount of time on putting together my poster of information.
As an older 4-H member I also had a lot of opportunities to do some really cool things. We as older members put on a camp for the younger members for five days. We get to become their role models just as I once looked up to the older members when I was little. It is a really good feeling when a kid comes up to you and tells you that they think you do a good job and look up at you. My junior year of high school I thought that was going to be my last year in 4-H, because I had hopes to join the military next summer and complete training before coming to college. Once again I was royalty of our fair, this time as queen with my best childhood friend as my king.
By the end of fair that year I was happy with my 4-H career and proud of everything I have done, but little did I know that I would get my real last year. I am very happy that I did get my true last year in 4-H with all the other kids I had grown up in the program. Even though there has been hard times throughout these years of being a 4-Her, I would not trade the past fifteen years of my life for anything else.
4-H is a discourse community because of all that we not only stand for but what all we do. From helping and being a part of the community around us to giving information and feedback to those that go through the program to seeing yourself grow over the years and becoming the person you want to be. So why not join a community that not only helps others but also yourself.