By: Molly Rubio
I joined my Green County, Ohio 4-H club as a Cloverbud when I was five years old and it’s been a huge part of my life ever since. Since 4-H is based on experiential learning, I started out doing projects, covering everything from cooking and sewing to electricity, natural resources and health. One of the things I love most about 4-H is that you can design your own project on almost any topic that interests you. Every year I took on a little more responsibility, which really helped me to find confidence and become comfortable trying new things. Lately, I’ve focused on developing my leadership skills, and 4-H has given me many awesome opportunities to do that. I’ve visited Washington, D.C., twice for national conferences, served as an ambassador for my county and, most recently, won a scholarship to attend the 2017 4-H State Leadership Camp.
Because I’ve grown so much with this organization, I want to share the most important lessons I’ve learned through my participation in 4-H.
1. Leadership isn’t telling people what to do.
I define leadership as guiding with integrity. Being a leader doesn’t mean you get to tell people what to do. First you have to set an example, then show them the possibilities and push them to do their best.
2. If you have the chance to learn something new, take it.
I applied for 4-H State Leadership Camp because I believe that every opportunity I have to learn something new will ultimately make me a better person. I loved that we were all there to learn how to be more capable leaders, so we were constantly learning from one another and teaching at the same time. The 4-H learning environment is something everyone should experience at least once. You’ll never forget the knowledge you gained and the friendships and memories you made.
3. The smallest kindness can make the biggest difference.
During our last night at camp, we participated in an activity where everyone wrote down their biggest fears and posted them on a wall. When I took a step back and looked at the notes and we read them as a group, I was shocked. I had gotten to know these people, now my friends, over the past five days, but I had no idea they were struggling with these things. It made me realize that I can never truly know someone’s story or what they are going through. It showed me that encouraging someone and being kind can make a big difference.
4. Family comes in many forms.
My 4-H club has always been like a family and I’m very fortunate to have that support and friendship in my life. At camp, I met people from all over the state and made close friends. This summer, we even visited each other at our county fairs, and I know we’ll stay in touch for a long time.
5. The only person you should compete with is yourself.
4-H has taught me how to strive to be a better person each day. Gaining just a little bit of knowledge can take you far in learning about yourself, how to help people, and how to reach out in your community, your state or even the nation. I have learned it doesn't matter what other people think of me as long as I am trying my hardest and am always working to improve myself.
I’m so grateful for everything I’ve experienced so far with 4-H and I look forward to taking on new challenges and giving back to my fellow 4-Hers as a counselor for next year’s State Leadership Camp.