Saturday, September 16, 2017

The Young Riders... My 4-H Story

The 4-H Pledge
I pledge my head to clearer thinking,
my heart to greater loyalty,
my hands to larger service,
my health to better living,
for my club, my community, my country, and my world.

In the spring of 1990, the local 4-H Horse Club was re-organized and we joined at the first meeting. For the second meeting, we were to bring our name suggestions for our new club and the members would vote on our new name. My suggestion was "The Young Riders" and everyone immediately could tell what my favorite show on TV was and the name suited our youth group of horse enthusiast, after all we were all between the ages of 5 and 18. That night, we became "The Upshur County Young Riders 4-H Horse Club" and it was the beginning of some of the best times of my life!  

That's me on the left, showing my horse Champ in halter or showmanship. 

I had some horse riding experience and had participated in the local play days, although through 4-H we learned more through presentations and demonstrations at our monthly meetings. I still remember giving a presentation over "parts of a horse." We had training clinics, the horse (quiz) bowl, and we learned leadership skills, went to summer camps, and then had our local horse shows were we exhibited the skills we had learned. 
Leadership Lab in Trinidad. 

A couple years later, a precision riding team was formed and later on it turned into a mounted drill team with anywhere from 12-20 riders practicing and performing choreographed routines with music and costumes. We performed at local rodeos and competed at the district (usually in Athens or Lufkin) and state 4-H horse show in Abilene. Throughout the 90's, our summer vacation was always spent with our horses and 4-H family and our only swimming happened when we stayed in hotels with a pool, at one of the out of town shows! 
Our first year for the precision riding team  perform at the Pittsburg Rodeo. 

We were friends and team mates and we had an absolute blast together! It was sad when we all graduated and had to leave our 4-H days behind.

Drill Team group picture at the State 4-H Horse Show in 1995. The undersides of many of our hats were autographed - we had met Ty Murray and Tuff Hedeman, when we performed at the Gladewater Rodeo that summer and they signed our hats! 

Our families all became friends, we had trail rides and picnics, bonfires and weenie roast, and spent many nights roping together, or at the Union Ridge play days, outside of our regular 4-H functions.
Barrel racing in 1992. God bless our 90's clothing style! I had Rocky Mountains in every color! 

My mom, dad, and aunts were all 4-H members growing up and my grandparents had been 4-H leaders. My dad was in the electrical club growing up and went on to study electrical trades in college and have a career as an electrician.
 US Calvary themed performance in Abilene. 

We submitted record books each summer with details of our projects, community service, leadership, achievements, photos and records from the year. One year we had a series of photography meetings and I had a funny photo place at district round up and we also kept records for our cows, along with our horses. 
Yamboree parade in 1993. 

The Gold Star award was the highest award to be earned in 4-H and you had to complete 3 separate projects and completed record books to qualify for the award. I received the award my senior year and traveled to SFA in Nacogdoches to receive the honor and become the second generation of family members to receive the award. 

Gold Star Awards Banquet in 1998. 

My senior year, I also received a Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo college scholarship for $10,000 due to my 4-H involvement. 
Another drill team performance in Abilene - we were the Wild West Show with cowboys, pony express riders, saloon girls with big fancy dresses, and Indians. 

I also competed in Horse Judging contest through our school FFA program and earned more scholarships that way. At the time, we didn't have a 4-H Horse Judging Team, although the skills and experiences through our 4-H shows, programs, and training contributed to my success in FFA contest. With these skills, I traveled across the USA to collegiate horse judging contest at the All American Quarter Horse Congress (our team won halter judging and I tied for first individually), AQHA World Horse Show, Reining Horse Show, and more. Several semesters, I received a check from Paris Junior College, because my tuition, room and board was less than the scholarship amount paid to the school and they must pass the difference on to you!
4-H Officer team and I believe this was shirts from a recent camp. 

The leadership skills (our meetings were all member led, organized with an agenda, parliamentary procedure, pledges to the flags, etc.,) community service platform, responsibility, and education we received through both the 4-H and FFA were valuable lessons that are still used today. I'm fortunate that my family believed in these programs and saw fit that we were able to participate. They personally knew the value of the volunteer led clubs and made in possible for us to have that same opportunity. 
4-H Banquet. 

I am happy that my niece and nephews (on my husband's side) have been able to have the opportunity to be involved as well and if I ever have a child, I would definitely encourage and make a way for them to participate in 4-H.
My last year in 4-H, our theme was Rock n' Roll and the girls wore poodle skirts. Yes, there was glitter in my horse's hair! 

 Please know that there are so many different projects to choose from and participate and its not just limited to agriculture based programs. If you are interested, contact your local county extension office or here is a link to Texas 4-H to find out more information and see all the different programs out there. Our Upshur County program has a section in the Gilmer Mirror newspaper this week about the different clubs and history of the organization and they are trying to grow the membership back up again.  Two of our pictures from our 4-H days even made it in the paper and one of the county agents ask me about some history from my time in the club, which prompted me to write about my experiences here. 

Gypsy Farm Girl is definitely a supporter of this great youth organization!  

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1 comment:

  1. This is so interesting, Janice, and a part of your past wonderful youth. I love the pic of you in your long dress! :)



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