Gordon Cowan, a member of the 4-H Livestock Club, presented the following speech during his club's public speaking competition last week. We're happy he was willing to share!
Being successful in the Orange County 4-H Livestock Club is not as hard as you may think, in fact there are many ways to go by being successful in our club. This club is not just about the Orange County Fair and showing animals, its about having fun and taking good care of your animals throughout the year. I have been in the 4-H for five years now, and I will remember all that I have learned for years to come. It is time to pass on part of this information but before I begin let me remind you all that I have shown only one cow and am mostly familiar with hogs. There are three main ways that you can be successful in 4-H. Care, be friendly, and most of all have fun, I follow these three things to the best of my ability and so far I have been successful for five whole years.
Care not only for your animals but for your 4-H. When you are in a meeting you do not have to take notes, but pay attention. For example if you have hogs and the president announces that hog weigh in is May first and you are not paying attention, you could end up missing weigh in and having to either find your own scale or not being able to show. When poinsettia sales come around, try to get some sales and help out the 4-H's savings, every sale counts. Animal care is also important. Make sure that your animals are happy, well fed, and well watered as these are the keys to caring for your animal. Don't think that not spending time with your animals will help you with your show. If you are selling it is best to not get too attached but you should still have the animal know who you are and how you act around it. Keeping a hog happy should include plenty of fresh water, feed, and shade along with the occasional mud-puddle. Caring for your club and your animal is the simplet, most essential part of being in the livestock club and is the absolute least you can do to be successful, but to improve this you can be friendly.
What I mean by this is not having a lot of friends. What I mean is that if there is someone in the 4-H who needs help and you are available and ready to help, you should help them. I learned this my first year with all of the help I received showing my heifer. If you help others, they will help others, and eventually you will find them returning the favor. Having friends is good, but helping them when they need help is even better. Without helping people and receiving the help that I have gotten in my five years of 4-H I may not have been as successful as I have been in this club. Trouble at the fair for me has run anywhere from needing shavings to something as severe as having a friend cut part of his finger cut off. In both situations I would not have made it without help. But the true icing on the cake to being in this club, is having fun.
Having fun is key because the more fun you have with your animals, the more time you will spend with them and thus the better you will show them. Having fun is what makes being in 4-H worthwhile. The more you follow my first two keys, the easier the fun will come to you. My personal favorite part of the 4-H year is the Orange County Fair. Months of work on our animals and we finally get to show them. The Fair week is all about fun in the sun, talking with friends, and spending time with the animals that you have spent all year raising.
The 4-H experience is one that I will never forget. I know it has been five years but it seems like only one. With these three keys you will be able to successfully be a member of the Orange County 4-H Livestock Club. They are simple rules to rely on when trying to be as good of a member as you can. You should remember to always do as much as you can to help out your 4-H, if you are someone who cannot be at many 4-H related functions or excel at selling poinsettias, then you should do something extra at the things you can do. If someone needs help at the fair and you are not busy, help them. It seems nearly impossible to me to be able to go a 4-H year without help, so you should return the favor to those who need it. Support your club, be friendly to all, and remember the most important thing throughout all of this, have fun.