By Shiloh Perry
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.
The 4-H pledge—for me these words became more than the promise I made to my local club as a kid. The short phrases that make up the pledge explain how to contribute to the greater good with a servant’s heart. This is something being a part of 4-H taught me at an early age, and the spirit of the oath has grounded and motivated me ever since.
I remember reciting the pledge at club meetings with my friends and trying to be the first one of the group to memorize it. While I may not have been the first to memorize it fully, the 4-H pledge is forever engrained in my mind and I am glad it is.
4-H was where I first learned the value of clear thinking, great loyalty, large service and better living—principles that are important to every walk of life. In 4-H, I had the opportunity not only to learn but also to practice these values and grow in my appreciation of agriculture through my involvement.
Preparing for food show contests helped me gain a basic knowledge of the different food groups and the importance of a nutritious and balanced diet. When cooking or baking certain dishes, I had to think critically about each ingredient and its nutritional value in order to create meals that were both healthy and delicious. Then at the contests I had to concisely present my dish and what I learned from the planning and cooking experience.
From holding leadership positions in my local club, parliamentarian and secretary, I learned the importance of loyalty to a cause, organization, activity or group. I came to see how being dedicated and carrying out the responsibilities of my leadership positions helped our club thrive, or how lacking dedication could harm an organization. Some of my greatest 4-H memories though are of our club’s efforts to give back to our community. We often had community work and beautification days to clean up different public buildings and help neighbors with yard work.
Today, I try to think critically to best carry out my personal and work-related responsibilities, cherish the relationships I have, give back, help others and make healthy decisions. These are things I strive for every day, and working at the American Farm Bureau Federation, I get to see how America’s farmers and ranchers do the same.
My involvement in 4-H has taught me valuable life lessons. It began to craft my leadership skills and strengthen my love of agriculture. I am grateful to have been a part of an organization that works to empower youth through agricultural-related hands-on-experiences. I am honored to work at an organization with the same values as 4-H, not to mention whose leader was recently recognized as an outstanding 4-H alumnus and founding luminary. The partnership between the American Farm Bureau Federation and the National 4-H Council is a natural fit as we work together to educate young minds about agriculture and its importance.
Communications Assistant, AFBF