I pledge my head to greater thinking…
My heart to greater loyalty…
My hands to larger service…
My health to a better living….
I’ve said the 4-H pledge thousands of times as a youngster growing up, but somehow the words have more meaning now for me as a mom. I strive every day to help my three children believe in themselves, to understand the importance of volunteering to build a strong community, and instill in them the values of hard work, dedication, and perseverance. 4-H is helping me do just that.
There is no thrill greater for me as a mom than watching my kids succeed. I’m not talking about when they win an award or place first in a competition. I’m talking about when you see them start a project from the beginning and dedicate themselves to its successful completion. But one area has helped then more than any other and that’s raising lambs for their 4-H sheep project.
Their work starts when a baby lamb is born. It’s their responsibility to provide the animal with love, food, and training so it’s ready for show day. It’s a big responsibility and one they don’t take lightly.
But, it’s easier to understand if you see them first hand. They love living on a farm, being in 4-H, and caring for the animals. The following video shows my family hard at work preparing for show day, together:
I think the pledge and the 4-H program mean more to me as a mother because its helping me shape my children in to wonderful, productive people. Thanks to this program and living on a farm, I’m seeing my kids gain skills and abilities that will benefit them forever.
How many of you have been to a conference or training that was amazing and impactful and then you get home and you put the binder of information on the shelf to gather dust? You may utilize a few strategies or ideas, but for the most part you don’t utilize many of your new discoveries. That’s where my friends and I sit today. Three modules, four days each, lots of homework and now we are nearing the end of a chapter in our lives! PAL Class 6 has completed the PAL modules and we have a bit of homework to complete before Graduation, then we will each have a chance to reevaluate our own destiny.
First, PAL (Partners in Agricultural Leadership) is a program offered by some great sponsors including American Farm Bureau, Monsanto, and Farm Credit that is an intense two-year leadership training and development experience. The class is made up of 10 young farmers from very different farm backgrounds across the country who were selected to grow in their leadership ability for agriculture.
The next piece of the puzzle is that not only did we focus on leadership development; we also spent time on engagement and the political process. Some of the greatest learning came from fellow class members and learning about agriculture in their world.
We are filled with excitement and ideas, but what do we do with it? What is the right choice for us as individuals and does this match what is best for our ag and food industry? Opportunities to be engaged and active in agriculture exist, so what activity do we jump into next? The members of this class are ready to hit the ground running with new ideas and abilities. Life decisions abound!
I am blessed to have five amazing kids and a few responsibilities so it adds another level of thinking before making decisions. Many of us have spouses that have stayed home with the farm chores and the kids to make it possible for us to be involved in activities like PAL. Do we take the risk to move on with exciting leadership opportunities? As a working Mom, how do we make the call to move on to the next opportunity in work and life? In a perfect world, I would help on the farm and volunteer for any and all ag advocacy opportunities. Life isn’t perfect and I do enjoy my job, but is working full-time best for my kids? Would it be worth the risk to not have health insurance and be able to have time to start a farm fresh/direct farm business on top of what we are already doing with some of the knowledge I have gained? There are always conflicts in life to work through, but when you have a conflict between commitment to family and commitment to a passion for the future of your industry, what is one to do? I wish I had some great ideas on how to answer these questions, but I do believe there are some consistent ideas that would work for all of us and other decisions that are very individual. The best ideas so far: pray and communicate with those closest to you to measure the pros and cons. No matter what path life leads you on, make sure to make a difference and share your passion!
Congrats PAL Class 6, we survived, but now we have to survive in the rest of our real life and make an impact beyond a safe learning environment of role plays! Look for us at the AFBF National Leadership Conference and Young Farmers and Ranchers Conference in Phoenix this February and ask us about our experience or share your ideas on how to better make these risky life decisions.
The impact of a simple smile is powerful! It’s amazing to think how a simple gesture could leave a lifelong impression. My blog today is to celebrate a smile that has probably been the most influential smile in Agriculture, Andrea’s Smile. I am worried that I won’t be able to serve this smile justice with my words; however, I feel the need to share her smile. For those of you that personally know the smile I am referencing, please remember her smile and keep it in your hearts. Let it be the spark that motivates you. For those of you whom did not get the opportunity to personally witness her smile, I hope you can take away from reading this blog just how Andrea’s Smile has impacted me and maybe you can carry on this smile.
Andrea’s resume’ topped the charts. She served as a role model to us all as a mother, a wife and a Christian. She was a school teacher that touched the lives of so many. Andrea was a motivational speaker that has influenced the souls of thousands across the US and the World. She was a young farmer that grew food to feed the world and was an advocate for the Agricultural Industry. But, for me her smile is what I will always remember.
Andrea’s Smile has positively impacted Agriculture more so than any one editorial written, any Facebook post, any viral You Tube Video or any blog. Andrea’s Smile was warm, comforting, motivating, uplifting, contagious and encouraging. But, most importantly memorable. Marketing teaches us to brand our product make it memorable….Andrea’s Smile did just that for Agriculture. I can remember setting in leadership development workshops listening to her message, but now realizing that it was more of her unspoken language that left a mark.
Let Andrea’s Smile impact you. Maybe you aren’t the one to speak at a Chamber of Commerce Event, blog about your daily agricultural chores or create You Tube Videos. But you can be that advocate with a simple smile. I challenge you to personally make a difference just with a simple gesture – an Andrea Smile.
In loving memory of Andrea a supporter and friend of the agricultural industry her smile will be missed by all.