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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!

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