August already, and the 2014 Franklin County Fair is in full swing.
This year, as always, there’s a midway full of rides and games. And, of course, there are all sorts of concessions, commercial exhibits and events, including demolition derbies, truck and tractor pulls, harness racing, concerts and a stunt-driver show.
It is the many 4-H exhibits, presentations, competitions and workshops that are taking place throughout the week that interest me most, however. The Franklin County Fair has a long and rich tradition of supporting 4-H programs and 4-H youth. The fair has long been a place where 4-H members have come together to showcase their skills, their craftsmanship, their showmanship and their animals.
The fair is not actually a part of the 4-H program, and Cornell Cooperative Extension and the Fair Board are not directly related. Still, both organizations have been cooperating for generations to assure continued success.
I am proud to be facilitating and participating in hands-on activities that allow fairgoers to learn more about gardening and horticulture and to create distinctive 4-H projects. I’m often inspired by the effort, the creativity and teamwork put forward by 4-H leaders and volunteers, and the hard work of our 4-H club members as they readied their club exhibits, posters, crafts, woodworking, sewing and gardening projects.
I get a lot of pleasure out of watching the 4-H families decorate and ready the stalls and pens that are temporarily home to their prized horses, cows, goats and sheep. Words cannot describe the love, pride and individual care given by these remarkable boys and girls to their exceptionally well-cared-for animals. They won’t all go home with blue ribbons, but as far as I’m concerned, they are all winners.
Cornell Cooperative Extension promotes youth development through 4-H clubs and by offering opportunities to participate in fairs statewide, 4-H youth gatherings, national conferences and more. There are also shows, field trips and other 4-H activities, such as those available at Camp Overlook in Mountain View, which is located south of Malone in the hamlet of Mountain View in a peaceful Adirondack mountain setting of 25 acres with frontage on Indian Lake and the channel between Indian and Mountain View lakes.
4-H Camp Overlook has been providing wholesome, educational and recreational outdoor experiences for children and adolescents in local communities, as well as others from all over New York State and the nation, for more than 60 years.
The 4-H Youth Development Program is an informal program designed to provide opportunities for youth to cultivate, practice and apply life skills and to create supportive learning environments that will enable youth and adults to achieve and to reach their fullest potential.
The 4-H pledge is: “I pledge my head to clear 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.”
It isn’t just words. It’s about decision making and knowledge, strong personal values, a positive self-concept, concern for others, workforce preparedness and a healthy lifestyle. The 4-H pledge is a promise of friendships that will span generations. It’s a pledge to learn new skills and to discover abilities that you can take with you and use throughout your lifetime.
It’s about shared experiences and sharing time and talents with others. It’s about friends and fun, learning and doing really cool things, family and community responsibility, hard work and success, and developing attitudes and habits that will help meet the challenges of today and the future. The 4-H pledge is about building a world in which youth and adults learn, grow and work together as catalysts for positive change.
Cornell Cooperative Extension of Franklin County encourages you to learn more about the 4-H program, as well as all of the other programs and services that we offer. It’s easy to join 4-H. All you have to do is contact your local Cooperative Extension office.
Why not join us? Get involved. Become one of the many parents, volunteers, community leaders and Extension staff sharing their time and talents with 4-H youth in your county. You’ll be glad you did.
Richard L. Gast, Extension program educator II, Horticulture, Natural Resources, Energy; agriculture programs assistant, Cornell Cooperative Extension of Franklin County, 355 West Main St., Suite 150, Malone, 12953. Call 483-7403, fax 483-6214 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.