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Thursday, May 31, 2012

WHEP Training catchy title to grab your attention today!  I am plum worn out!

Larry arrived about an hour earlier than the 4Hers.  He brought along his assistant-Hailey, and his dog-Clover.  We walked around our property to talk about our wildlife and determine some needs that we could use for a mock habitat evaluation.  Of course, I loved it because it helped me to see how we were doing with our property.  The thing I was most concerned about was the pond and surrounding area.  I was told that the pond looked great.  To throw some pond habitat vocabulary at you...Larry told me our pond had good turbidity (the clearness of the water, level of sediment in the water).  He also said that our dam was clear of most issues that would cause serious damage (such as dying trees along the banks).  The vegetation growing around the sides of pond were not inhibiting the use of the pond or lacking (which could cause erosion issues).  The only real issue for our pond was a lack of population survey and no available water control structure.  We then talked about the possibility of other targeted species on the property.

This took about an hour to assess the property at a very surface level.  He and Hailey went off on their own to determine what they would discuss with the 4Hers.  This was just in time for everyone else to arrive.  We discussed the judge's scoring sheets and what was expected of them for the afternoon.

Once we got started, we spent a majority of the time discussing the format of the contest and score sheets.

The different components found on the contest are:

  1. Wildlife Identification (10-30 questions of identification for animals in region, including scat, distinctive animal markings, juvenile, adult, footprints, bird calls)
  2. Wildlife Knowledge Quiz (10-30 questions, straight from the handbook; multiple choice questions)
  3. Recommendations of Wildlife Management Techniques (either 8 posted questions for the property or filling in chart for targeted species)
  4. Written Wildlife Management Plan (must be written in complete sentences in paragraph(s) for seniors, as well as detailed property sketch showing the techniques used in plan)
  5. Oral Defense (judged on poise, speaking ability and ability to discuss questions asked of them about management plan designed)
Then we reviewed the management plan from our last contest.  This was VERY helpful!  Larry went to a lot of trouble to NOT embarrass the 4Hers for what they had done before.  He wanted to use this opportunity to teach them about their strengths and then focus on how they could improve.  He really was sensitive to their dignity and I was thankful because the poor things had to deal with MY lack of knowledge to show them the way!

We learned so much from this review.  I think we had already covered a lot of the plan basics since our last contest.  However, he seemed to make more sense explaining the basic procedure to use to write the plan.  Of course, he has done this a MILLION times over compared to my few measly attempts, so he should be able explain it better.  After all, that is the reason we asked him to come help us!

So, here are the basics:

Plan Background
  • State the species to be managed (found in scenario given).
  • State the management objectives (found in scenario given).
Plan Development
  • State habitat requirements for each species to be managed (found in handbook for each species without regard of the others or presence-food, cover, water).
  • Evaluate the habitat and state what is present and what is lacking for each species to be managed based on management objectives (DO NOT state issues if they are not discussed in the scenario!!).
Plan Implementation
  • State what management practices to use for each species to reach the management objectives stated above. (Give actual management techniques from our list for the species, now connecting all the targeted species.  Also, state how the technique will be used.  Explain when and where each practice will be implemented with the effect it will have on the land and wildlife whether it is beneficial or non-beneficial.)
Plan Evaluation
  • State what will be done to realistically monitor success. (How will you decide if your plan is working?)
This plan is written as a team effort during contest.  The team must also present a sketch of the property to include as much of the detail of the written plan as possible.  The team will not have a property map, so the sketch is from their memory of the property and the scenario.  We also learned that once the team is told the directional position of a key feature on the property, they must orient their sketch to this direction (usually north).  The sketch should also include a key in order to allow a more detailed approach to understand the property and the management techniques determined.

After all of this information about the contest, we headed out on the property to practice.  We went to our Boot Pond (shaped like a boot!) and determined that the targeted species was the bluegill.  Even though there are several possibilities to manage this species, only two of these skills were used.  This was very helpful because we have a tendency to mark ALL the possibilities.  The team needs to remember to ONLY include the practices that relate to the property and the circumstances.

While we worked on choosing the appropriate techniques, Larry reviewed most of these techniques to explain what circumstances would be needed to choose the stated technique.  For instance, delay crop harvest is only referred to when discussing grain or hay crops.  And, wildlife damage control is only used as a method when the targeted species is damaging humans or their property.

This is only a small part of what we learned!  I have notes all over my papers.  I will need a few days to sift through it all.  It was a good workshop.  We were all exhausted at the end of the day.

The main thing I learned is the need to focus on what is given in the handbook.  It is easy to look for other sources because it is so interesting and helpful.  However, the first year should be spent with the book.  Later years can be spent learning more in depth information.

I hope every one gained from our experience.  We will have a small team get together for the State contest in June.  I hope to blog about this after we are done.  Looking forward to the trip to Alpine after Round Up.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Remembering it All!

Not a chance!  Even with my blog this year, I have realized in the last two weeks that I still have to come up with a better plan for keeping track of what we do in 4H.  It really comes down to remembering the RIGHT events and the details.

For the most part this blog was started to have an easy way to keep in touch with my husband who is often away from home.  However, there is also the idea that I do not have a very good memory!  I keep a serious calendar of events on paper but I never have the details of what we are doing.  I probably should have another blog for my non-4H activities.  And yes, for those who do not believe me, we do have a life outside of 4H!

So why am I bringing this up now!  The last two weeks, we have been working on our record books for the end of the 4H year.  If you have never heard of record books, these are a way for 4Hers to record all of the events from the last year.  The hard part is knowing what is an important event while it is happening.

The record book is designed for the 4Her to choose the most significant 4H project from the last year.  Then other projects, as well as non-4H events, can be elaborated on to show a well rounded year.  The record book should show growth over the year (and previous years) in project content, leadership, and community service.  Goals should be set at the beginning of the year and the record book shows the 4Her's attempt (hopefully success) to meet those goals.

In the past, we have kept track of events throughout the year on my calendar but we lacked the details needed to make this happen.  Furthermore, we should talk about how all of this helped to impact the 4Her in our story and forms.  There is also the idea that the event might have an impact on others, which also needs to be recorded.  I have found that if we do not discuss the impact at the time of the event, it is harder to write about it.    

Imagine having a note on a calendar saying...October Wildlife meeting.  What does that mean in May?  Not very much!  So the blog helped us talk about what we did at each event (even if it is six months or more after the event!).  We are getting closer to what the record book should be about.  However, there is still that idea that it is my view of the event.  This can be helpful when a 4Her needs to recall the event more clearly.  However, eventually the 4Her must decide why the event was significant.  So, we will look for ways to make that happen next year.  Maybe you will see more posts written by our 4Hers.  That would be fun!

So you still might be asking why this is so important.  Why go to the trouble?  There are several reasons.

  • Recording for your own joy (a must or it gets stressful)
  • Recording for 4H adult leaders to show the program is a success
  • Recording for use in filling out scholarship forms (4H and beyond)
  • Recording for use in future employment ( is helpful because it can show a knowledge base or experience)
  • Completing a record book also is a necessary requirement for some 4H awards and scholarships.
  • Completing a record book to be entered into contest may allow a 4Her the opportunity to visit Washington DC (record books can be entered into a contest and Senior 4Hers who place 1st at the State judging will be awarded this opportunity)
All of these reasons are great, but the first one really is the most important.  We still look back at the years past to see what we have done.  I hope that these books will be real treasures when my young 4Hers look at them as adults.  My goal when I am helping complete these books with my 4Hers is to tell a story they will want to read later.  If it is a good story, the judges will enjoy it also.  The forms might seem tedious at first but they are helpful also.  They tell a story without the extra words to get in the way.  

I will admit the first couple of years we completed these books, I did it because of peer pressure....the other 4H moms and their 4Hers were doing it!  However, I came to realize the importance of it.  Furthermore, I was sold on the whole endeavor when Amanda started applying for jobs and scholarships.  When those applications started asking the tough questions, we had the answers readily available and so the difficult task was much easier!

So, this year the State 4H leadership decided to start an online record of these events.  The forms can be updated throughout the year and saved (although this year that did not happen until mid-year).  I was a little leery about the idea, but now that I have used the system I think it will work.  I have set my goal to go to this site often next year.  Maybe we will be more organized when record book time comes.

As for this year, I set a record for our family to complete our books by the end of May!  It was so nice to reach that goal this afternoon!  We all have our books completed two weeks before the deadline!  I am so happy and relieved!  Maybe I can even help some of the first timers!  Together we can "make the best better" least for our record books!

For more information on record books, go to the 4H website:  You will find a tutorial and forms to complete.  And remember to enjoy the experience...make it a family event and share ideas about what needs to be remembered from the 4H year!

Monday, May 28, 2012

Memorial Day

So, today is the actual day that our country has set aside to honor our fallen heroes in the military.  For some this holiday is just another day...workers in department stores around town had to be at work to let customers in for those sales after all.  However, as I have said over the course of this weekend, this is a special day for us.  We could never let it slip by us without thought.

And, there were those who took this day seriously.  At 11am, our town had two services across town from each other.  Our family attended the service at the VFW where a short quiet demonstration of honor was attended by a handful of participants.  There was great symbolism in the program, starting with a prayer.  The commander led us through the various symbols that were placed on the memorial marker in front of the building.  A red, white & blue wreath was placed to honor all the fallen.  A white rose was placed for purity and honor of those who gave their lives in service.  A red rose for the blood that was shed for our freedom.  A blue rose for the eternal rest we desire for them.  And finally a small American flag to thank them for their sacrifice for country.  This was followed by a moment of silence and the playing of Taps.

The second ceremony was at the local cemetery where we had placed flags on Saturday.  I heard it was a very nice presentation recognizing the importance of remembering those who have gone before us in military action.  Our very own 4Her, Caleb, was awarded for his essay recognizing the importance of Veterans in his life.  Myra told me he did not have fancy quotes or historical events recalled in his essay.  Instead, he wrote about his own experience working with Veterans in our community.  I am sure he wrote from his heart and that is why his essay was chosen for a first place prize.  Great job, Caleb!

So many have given their lives for our country since the time our country began.  It is easy to forget or take their death for granted.  I thought I would share one such life that I will never forget.  After the service, I spoke to a good friend of ours and we both agreed that this day does not go by without thinking of his vibrant, young personality and how he lived to die for his country.  His name was Chris Everett, and he loved God, family, country and the Army more than anything else.  He would often volunteer to go out on missions so other 'family' men would not have to go out and risk their lives.  How strange that it was just a few days before his death that he would do this very thing...volunteer to go out on a mission.  And how providential that he would not die on a mission like this, but on the main base instead.  Maybe it was God's way of protecting him from a worse fate.  We will never know that answer.  However, we do know that he proudly served and would do it again if given the chance.  This is the kind of hero that we honor this day.  This is the reason my eyes can never be dry as they play Taps...and I have heard it many times over the years.  I thank you Chris and all the other men and women who have paid the price.

Someone asked me today if we should only honor those who actually died in battle.  My answer to that is no...I honor those who have died whether in battle or after....whether they live only a moment after a battle or years to come...because it is out of respect for the dead that we honor them.  We show them dignity for their service by remembering them.  There are other days to honor the living...but give those who have died and their families this is the least we can do for them.

And so we did that today.  We honored those who we lost with the reciting of the poem I have written so many posts about in the last few weeks.  We have done this for the Veterans who live because they need to know we still care and want to help them. Today we did this for those who have died because we want to show that we will not forget the importance to honor our country and flag that they died to protect.

I have watched the 4Hers perform several times, but this time it seemed like they went beyond those walls of the VFW.  They did an excellent job in spite of the rush and moving the skit up an hour.  To me it just showed that these youth have come to understood why they are doing this skit.  As a parent, I have learned the importance as well.  Things may go wrong around the performance but in the end the performance is what it needs to be.  It brought tears to my eyes to have this all come together.  Several in the audience talked to the youth after the performance and thanked them.  I think it gives the living Veterans hope in the future to see that their are those youth who will carry on our American pride and take up the call to duty if need be.  Today we 'made the best better' by being present and witnessing to that greater good that should bring all of us together united as one nation regardless of race, color, or creed.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Blessing Our Veterans

Today, I continue our tribute to our deceased Veterans.  Our church celebrated the veterans, as we do each year, with a prayer of remembrance for all our deceased veterans from our community.  This was especially to pay tribute for all the veterans who are buried in our little cemetery next to our parish church in the woods.

During the service all the names of the veterans from the past were called out to be honored.  We have men buried in our cemetery who served all the way back to the Civil War.  We also thanked the Veterans in attendance or who are currently serving.  We have such a small parish that we only had 5 men stand to be recognized and two who are serving.  We were proud to hear Michael's name called, along with our friend's son-in-law, Miguel, who are both in Afghanistan.

The boys were serving at the altar today, so they were blessed to be a part of the service.  After Mass, we walked out to the cemetery together.  The priest gave a special blessing of remembrance to all of those who served our country buried in the cemetery.  Then he blessed the veterans present, and he ended by blessing all of those present.

We were then dismissed to enjoy a potluck/hamburger dinner.  Even though the dinner was nice, the best part was the fellowship.  We were able to sit and talk about the past wars or just talk about the weather and our gardens.  Our family was also talked about as we prepare for this new little blessing in our lives.  It was was like being with family (as it should be).  It made for a nice continuation of this patriotic holiday.

So, as you can see, we continue to appreciate this holiday for its true meaning.  May God continue to bless this nation with men and women who serve our country.  And, may we continue to be the kind of nation who appreciates their sacrifices.

Tomorrow will be the big celebration so going to rest this afternoon so I can enjoy the fun tomorrow.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Placing Flags to Honor Our Heroes

Today we placed flags at 100 military graves.  We were not alone.  The local veteran organizations come together with other volunteers to place flags on over 3000 graves!

This is not a 4H experience, however, I feel honored to see my sons doing their civic duty each year during Memorial Day weekend.  We have been doing this for ten years and we always feel so blessed to be a part of this event.

I was not happy with my feeble pregnant body for not being able to walk around the cemetery and bend down to place flags.  I had to let the boys do all the work.  I was the official photographer instead.  Normally we stay until all the graves are given honor with a flag.  This year by the time we finished the 100 flags, I was worn out and we had to leave.  Next year, babe in arms, I will be back in action placing those flags.

Why is this so important to us?  I think that we can never express our gratitude for these men and women for the sacrifices they made for our country.  I hate that this holiday has just become a 3-day weekend to mark the start of summer vacation.  I have seen more attention to the military in recent years, but it is still hard to see sale ads and party invitations with little regard to the real meaning of this holiday.

For our family, we take the time to remember.  As we place those flags on each individual grave, we stop to remember that there is a person we must honor and show respect.  We call out their name and read their engraved message.  We remember that they fought for our country so we could be free.  Some of these men and women died in action.  Others were fortunate to have the praise and honor they deserved when they returned and went on to be great leaders for their families, communities and our country.  Others came home afraid to tell their stories and sacrificed their memories.  Others were told that they were wrong to fight and lived with the guilt the rest of their lives.  All were brave in their own way and we remember them because we love this freedom that did not come free.

These men and women are remembered by this 4H family because they have shown how to 'make the best better' in ways we cannot imagine.  May God bless them all!

Friday, May 25, 2012

Beginning this Weekend with Honor

After working on our quilt yesterday, we almost have it completed.  Katy has really improved from her first day on a sewing machine just a month ago.  I love to see this kind of improvement.  We will work on the border this weekend. Then we will hand quilt some insects and frogs on the jars to make it complete!  I am so excited about the way it is turning out!

We also helped wash the train at the Forestry Museum.  This is always a fun project.  When I told a friend we were going to be washing a train, she asked if that was a community service.  I just laughed!  No this was just a fun reason to get wet...the kids play with water guns and suds up the worst of the train and then we rinse it off.  The train is still dirty at the end but everyone thinks they have done an amazing job!

The funniest part is that we got to meet Dustin's family (see previous posts if you are clueless).  They arrived just as we were bringing out the water guns!  The boys thought that was so funny!  However, Dustin was the cool dad and let his boys have the fun!  Brittany (his wife) even let me hold sweet Arrow!  I felt so blessed because she was so cute and personable.  Arrow really wanted to be in on the fun as she watched the big kids play!

Today we started out our Memorial Day weekend a little early.  We served sandwiches to the veterans once again.  We are getting to be real regulars at the clinic, which means we are meeting the regular Veterans as well.  It makes my heart sing to know that they remember us and enjoy the company of the 4Hers when we come in the door.  Today we had some new hands working the preparation and serving line, Lynda, Katy and Matt.

It was a slow day (as most holiday weekends are) so it gave us time to talk to veterans and leave early.  So we only worked for two hours.

This weekend will prove to be busy.  I will send out another post each day to show the joy we have in honoring our veterans from the past and present.  I promise it will be a very patriotic way to show how we try to 'make the best better.'

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

A 4H Share the Fun Kind of Day

We headed to our VA Clinic once again this morning, but this time not to serve sandwiches but entertainment to the veterans.  Our senior group performed their rendition of the "Ragged Old Flag."  Henry had the privilege of introducing the group.  It took a while for us to get everything set up but it was worth it.  Besides, I think the veterans enjoyed the pre-show almost as much as the flag presentation!

We had approximately 50-100 in attendance as they performed in the lobby of the facility.  I think everyone enjoyed the presentation, as many came to the group and thanked them.  The seniors also walked around the area talking to the veterans and thanked them for their service to our country.  We even convinced a few of the veterans to take a picture with the group in front of our 'court house.'

By the way, if the perspective of these pictures looks a little different it is because our little photographer, Edward, took most of these shots!  Once again, I cannot tell you how much I appreciate how our 4H group really works to let everyone be involved.  During the tear down process, you can see how even the smallest tag-a-long was doing his part to help!  They love feeling like they are part of something bigger.  It won't be long before they will be full 4Hers as well.

Then we talked of going to the library to work on the quilt.  It might seem like an odd place for quilting but the library has study rooms available and we were able to use one of these rooms to almost complete the machine quilting portion of our project.  We hope to finish this tomorrow as our boys and Katy are the last to machine sew the quilt.

This was also a good opportunity for our seniors to work on another project coming up-4H Congress.  I hope to have one of the seniors write about their experience later in July.  However, the basic idea is that on the years our state congress does not meet in Austin, the 4Hers take control of the building and have mock sessions to truly experience the way our state government works.  In order to participate, each 4Her must present a bill to Congress prior to their acceptance to the event.  These bills are voted on through due process during the event.  We chose not to participate this round because our summer is so full at this time.  However, we hope to make every effort next time around.  A great experience for anyone who can participate.

Our quilting abruptly came to a stop as I noticed the time!  We raced out of the library (after a quick thank you to our librarian who loved seeing our quilt and bragged about her own 4H days!) to grab a bite of lunch and head to the museum for our WHEP project meeting.  Today we listened to a brief college lecture I found on professional habitat plans.  It was a little advanced for our group but I think it explained the overall planning process needed to create a good habitat management plan.  We then took a scenario with targeted species for a fictional property and created our own management plan.  We discussed the importance of brainstorming ideas (using a web format).  I then told them to focus on the following items:

  • name the targeted species, 
  • list goals of the owner for these species, 
  • state objectives we determine are most important (from the charted management techniques for the species in the region), 
  • determine specific recommendations for each objective.

Once these steps are taken in a brainstorming session, the group can then take these parts of the plan and write a sufficient management plan for use on a piece of property.  We also spoke about using proper vocabulary and format when writing these plans.  I think the session went well.  From now on we hope to use these skills each time we meet with different scenarios.

I also gave a little homework to the group!  I found some basic management plans that the 4Hers are to read in order to get a better idea of how these plans are written.  Click on the name of the plan for the websites in case you are following along with our meetings (It helps you see what our 4Hers are learning, besides it is good for all of us to manage our properties!):

Red-cockaded Woodpecker Plan (long...just look at the goals, objectives and recommendations)
Grimes County Plan
Milam County Plan
Softball Plan (A very interesting video with a softball analogy to understand quail)

We then had a break in our 4H fun (older group had Food Challenge workshop) before our next meeting.  However, you know I cannot waste our time during these long days!  So I took this opportunity to VOTE!  Early voting is taking place all over our great state of Texas.  The early voting period is my favorite time to vote because there is only one location and not a lot of people (no waiting!).  Furthermore, I can take my boys in to talk about the importance of voting.  So our little group of 'voters' filled the room (only one other voter present) and crowded around the electronic ballot and placed our vote for the primary.  This was a great opportunity to talk about primaries and the voting process in general.  This was our 'workshop' for our Civic Education project.  We spoke about the process as we drove around town running errands.  The boys love knowing that they are 'voters.'  I even let them press a few of the buttons for me as I carefully chose my candidates.

One of our errands was to pick up pizza for all the members at our next project, Share the Fun!  These are such long days and waiting for dinner until 8 or 9-o'clock is just ridiculous.  It was not much but at least we were able to enjoy a small meal together and push forward through the rest of the evening.  Also, the boys and I talked about the new gluten-free pizza provided by Domino's (not a paid advertisement...just a mom thankful for options!).  The boys picked up on the word 'celiac,' so this gave me another opportunity to talk about a Food & Nutrition topic...I just love 4H talk because it is real life decision making in the works!

We also organized another opportunity for the Seniors to present their poem for Memorial Day.  Next Monday, we will be at the VFW for anyone interested in seeing them perform!  The commander was very interested in our performance.  We hope he and the other veterans attending the event will be pleased with the 4Hers honoring the flag and veterans.

Share the Fun practice was very helpful.  We have been blessed with another 'expert' in the field of performances.  Miss Martha has graced the stage (and behind the scenes) in performances around the world.  She graciously volunteered her assistance after seeing our presentation last week.  She gave the 4Hers so much good advice that I could not begin to tell you all that she said.  However, everything was heard by the group and in just an hour the 4Hers had improved immensely.  She also made some changes in our program and stage positioning that helped the group move about the stage with ease.  We are short on time before State contest to make changes but hoping the changes will make it a better.

I gathered my little group and headed home.  We had a long 12-hour 4H day but truly enjoyed every bit of it.   The best part is that we worked together.  In spite of all the running around, I was able to rest as the children stayed busy.  Always a good feeling as we headed home to go to bed!  After participating, watching, and creating seven 4H project moments in one day, I can only hope that we helped to 'make the best better.'  After all what better way to show the joy of 4H than starting and ending our day with Share the Fun!

Monday, May 21, 2012

Treasurer Twice Over

Just a short message tonight to say that I am so proud of Sean.  He was nominated for County Council Treasurer at the meeting today.  He will now officially be the treasurer for both our club and the county council.  He is really working hard to be a good leader for 4H in our community.

And while I was going through my pictures to find a picture of Sean today, I just could not resist posting an extra one of my favorite 4Hers--Sean, Henry, Edward, and tag-a-long Brendan.  It is hard to believe our 4H year is coming to an end.  We still have a few things to wrap up in June (record books, State Round Up, and State WHEP) but their won't be as many posts through the summer. 

I have enjoyed blogging about the events of the year, so be ready for new thrills as we continue our adventure to 'make the best better!'

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Motivated to Succeed

Today is Armed Forces Day and we send out a salute to all the men and women who work so hard for our country.  We really appreciate all they do for us.

That is one of the reasons we are motivated to go out to our VA Clinic each month to help our veterans.  Sometimes this motivation is what we need to make the trip into town to do out duty to help serve sandwiches.  Of course, we are always pleased with the results of our efforts as we talk to the veterans.  Yesterday, we heard great stories from our Vietnam veterans.  The two men that lingered in the little cafe were happy to have some one interested in their stories.  They motivate us to do our best 'to make the best better.'

We were also motivated today by our observation hive experience earlier this week.  We have not been able to spend as much time with our bees this spring.  Between other events (mostly 4H) and my pregnancy, we have done little more than observe the bees from the outside of their hives.  It is obvious that we have a  strong hive because we can see their activity around our property.  However, it is nice to open up the hive every once in a while to be sure.

The boys assured me that they could do the inspection of the hive on their own.  I told them to be cautious and back off if it got to be too much.  I can honestly say that I thought they would return after their first attempt to open the hive.  However, they spent several minutes checking the hive.  They were even able to add a shallow super to the top of the hive to motivate the bees to add more honey.  Sean and Henry came back so excited to tell me that the hive was thriving and the honey was brimming over!

Edward made an attempt to take pictures of the adventure but his motivation ended at our plum tree about 50 feet from the hive!  He did manage to get one picture of the experience.

We will check the hive again next week to see if the bees have been able to pull any wax from the empty super and add any honey.  Maybe we can get some better pictures then as well.

I am very proud of the boys for using their knowledge and gaining the experience of working the hive on their own!

Thursday, May 17, 2012

A Night in Paris Part 2!

A couple of weeks ago, I posted about our first night in Paris.  Let me tell you, as nice as it was to sit down with the adults who lead our clubs and projects throughout the county, tonight was much more exciting and rewarding.  Seeing what the 4Hers from our club accomplished this past year was truly an inspiration.  It gave hope in our next generations of leaders.

We started off the night, as we do every month, with prayer and pledges.  We also heard an inspiration verse from the Gospel of Matthew from Caleb.  Then we enjoyed the presentation of our poetry team of the Ragged Old Flag.  Then we shared an amazing potluck dinner with everyone.  There was not reason to worry about having enough food...the tables were full with a nice variety!

After we all had our fill, we began our business portion of the meeting.  This included the elections for next year's officers.  This took a while, but there are a lot of people needed to run a club well.  It was nice to see the 4Hers understand the importance of maintaining our club duties.  We have a young group coming up next year.  We can only get better from here!  We will have many years to prepare these youth for the future.

The following 4Hers will take on the leadership roles:
Kevin-1st vice president
Taylor-2nd vice president
Coty-3rd vice president
Daniel-council delegate
Brianna-county council alternate
James-community service chairman
Caitlin-call community chairman
Zachary-fundraising chairman

This was followed by our awards.  Three hours later, we completed the presentations to these amazing 4Hers.  Praising them for their growth and achievements over the last year.  We had Clover Kids certificates, club leadership pins and perfect attendance pins.

Then we had project completion pins for: Entomology, Horsemanship, Food & Nutrition, Clothing & Textiles, Citizenship, Performing Arts, Woodworking, Leadership, Wildlife, Forestry, Shooting Sports, Horticulture, Animals (poultry, goats and rabbits), Home Design, Photography, and Visual Arts.

I would also like to mention the special awards for Wildlife.  Plaques were given for high point individual at our district contest.  This honor was given to David.  We also were surprised to learn that a plaque was awarded to the top ten individuals at the State Wildlife contest.  Henry received a plaque for being in the top ten!

Then the special Spirit Award was given to the members of our club voted as the most representative of the 4H spirit.  These individuals have shown their love for the 4H motto, "To make the best better!"  Katy, Joseph and Timothy were awarded this honor from our club.

The graduating Seniors were then honored with scholarships and well wishes from our entire club.  I can not tell you how much we will miss these young men next year.  Caleb, David, Justin and Treyton are all great guys who have already accomplished so much in their lives.  They will be remembered with fond memories and I hope they will not be strangers to our club in the coming years.

We could not complete the evening without honoring our leaders from the last few years.  We will begin next year with new leaders.  However, we wanted to do something special for the Myra and Sheri for all they have done to help keep our little club moving forward.  We will miss them terribly next year.  As I said at the meeting, they better be ready for lots of phone calls and questions as we move ahead without their guidance.  Many great memories as they guided us to do our very best as adults and youth.

And so our meeting ended.  We cleaned up and made final arrangements before heading home.  A long full evening filled with emotions.  It was a great way to the end of a great year!

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

The Buzz of the Bees and More

Boys looking for queen bee before groups come

Sean pointing out the different bees in the hive
Henry showing the beekeeper tools

This seems to 'bee' our week for giving tours and demonstrations!  This morning we woke up way to early to 'fly' over to an Ag Day where about 200 4th and 5th graders came to learn a little more about the agricultural opportunities in our area.  We represented our local chapter of beekeepers (as well as our 4H club) and brought out an observation hive for the groups to see.  We had six groups of students come through in two hours!  It was amazing to see how much information we could fit into a short 15 minute talk along with questions from the group!  However, it could never have happened without the help of Edward, Henry, Sean and Timothy.  They took the information and broke it into smaller talks for each of them.  I would only mention extra information or give examples that related to the students' lives as needed.  They pretty much ran the show!  It is nice to know that they have the confidence and knowledge to be able to do this.  I think it made the talk more interesting coming from our young group for those who were listening.  And they were listening!  They had many questions and wanted to see into the hive.
Here I am introducing the group to the bees

Timothy talking to the group about hive problems
Edward showing the group honey comb

 This was only one of four 4H related events for us today.  We left the Ag Day to grab a quick bite of lunch and make it to our WHEP project meeting.  After last week, I trimmed down my presentation of the animals...just the facts...and added more pictures.  It proved to be helpful and the group was more involved. So thankful to my parents who gave me input to "make the best better!"  In fact, the group was so lively, one of the moms worried that we were too loud!  But, I assured her that we were learning.  We learned the remaining animals on our list.  These mammals and fish proved to be more recognizable and made the talks go easier.  We learned about the raccoon, coyote, bobcat, pronghorn, desert cottontail, prairie dog, bluegill and large-mouth bass.

We had a short break before our Share the Fun practice.  With the top of our quilt complete, we took this time to gather the remaining supplies for our quilt.  We picked out the material for the bottom, as well as thread and batting.  We took these supplies to the Share the Fun practice and found an area to make our quilt 'sandwich.'  Henry and Brendan helped with the task of pinning the pieces together.  We were then able to pass the quilt to Treyton and Brianna to begin the quilting process.  The quilt will then be passed to Caleb to do his part. We will finish up the final area next week with the boys and Katy.  I think we might just finish this in time for Round Up!

Share the Fun practice was more about planning our next few weeks.  The 4Hers took the lead by starting practice while the parents planned out practice times and performances, along with the plans for our trip to Lubbock in just a couple of weeks!  We are planning to perform the poem for several Veteran groups in the next couple of weeks.  We might perform at some churches also.