There is a pretty good chance that if you know me, you know what the 4-H and FFA programs are. And if you know me and still don't know what they are, send me an email and I will explain. Yesterday I made my way to Sacramento to the California State Fair. This is not your ordinary county fair. This is the State Fair! Sure there are corn dogs, cotton candy, carnival rides and cows. But where else can you go and see a wide assortment of crops growing, all those infomercial products in person, taste the largest selection of California wines available, and bet on a thoroughbred race? The answer is the California State Fair.
However for me the State Fair is about the kids and the animals. Specifically the hundreds of 4-H and FFA projects that are exhibited by California's finest young agriculturalists. In a time when school scores are declining and drop out rates are going through the roof, I am so proud of the young men and women of our 4-H and FFA program.
These kids go to school, get good grades, raise animals and develop businesses, help their younger siblings, keep up on family chores on their farms and ranches and still find time to be active in sports and other extra curricular activities. I guarantee no other program does a better job preparing our youth for the real world than 4-H and FFA programs.
I had the opportunity to sit on the panel that interviewed the final four competitors in the State Fair's Champion Challenge program. Talk about work! These four young people knew more about current issues than most of the people I talk to in my professional life everyday. Business, politics and the lack work being completed at the Capital in Sacramento right now- these kids had an opinion on it all. And at the same time they are kids. Taking on the challenges of high school and feeling their way through the maze of getting a college education. These are kids between 17-20 who already have a list of topics - Farm Bill to water - that they are ready to discuss with our Presidential candidates.
Back to the interview, all I can say is wow - these kids rock! It was not easy but with four of us on the panel, a series of questions and after an hour of reasoning, we can to a conclusion and named a winner. As a result the winner took home a $5000 savings bond. Again, this was no easy competition so it was $5000 well earned.
I am the product of 4-H and FFA. I am 34 years old and everyday I use a skill that was a result of 4-H and FFA. Public speaking, writing, reasoning, and responsibility. Sure I honed these skills in college and in my professional career. But I got a great head start in 4-H and FFA.
I made a point to write down the names of the four young agricultualist I interviewed yesterday. I am certain, without a doubt, I will run across these kids again in their future. Their future is in agriculture and each will have a part in making sure that we continue to produce the freshest and safest high quality food California farmers are known for.
In a time when I wonder "how are we ever going to make it?" I am reassured that we will survive, despite increases in costs, changes in our regulatory environment and competition from foreign countries. 4-H and FFA is preparing our future. ~mrs. c