I love 4-H!
I’ve been involved in 4-H in some aspect or another since 1998.
I was not a 4-H’er growing up in Tulsa. I was in Boy Scouts and have fond memories of working my way from Cub Scouts to Webelos and then Boy Scouts.
I attended Boy Scout camp at Camp Garland near Locust Grove, Okla., about 50 miles east of Tulsa, the second week of June from 1972 – 1976.
It was a great experience as I was able to participate in many activities from archery to the shooting range, canoeing and swimming. We all ate in a mess hall and every morning, we could attend church service and we also participated in a daily flag raising ceremony.
My first year at camp, my parents gave me $3 spending money for the camp outpost. I only spent $2 during the week and they were so proud of me, I got to keep the extra $1.
One year, a group of us earned a merit badge by going on a five-mile hike and camping overnight in a makeshift tent. It was a disaster. Not only did I wear blisters on my feet from the hike, I got soaked in my sleeping bag during a thunderstorm that night when our makeshift tent didn’t survive the storm.
Back to 4-H.
4-H is a great organization and I’ve been so privileged in my life to be a part of it. I’ve taken pictures of 4-H’ers and FFA members with their prize-winning pigs and big beef at the county fair more times than I can count on my fingers and toes. I’ve photographed chickens, geese, rabbits, goats, sheep and horses, too!
I bet a lot of my photos still grace many refrigerators in homes across Iowa and Poweshiek counties.
The other day at work, a co-worker mentioned that I took his photo more than once at the Poweshiek County Fair.
“It was 2007, 2008 and 2009,” he said. “I still got the newspapers.”
I don’t remember taking his photo, but he does and that it is a blessing to me.
I’ve been covering the Poweshiek County Fair long enough that the kids of kids I photographed when I first started covering the fair in 2000 are now in the winner’s circle.
My very first experience at a county fair was in Iowa County in 1998. I was a new journalist and the paper sent me to cover the pig show. I’m a city boy and about the only thing I knew about pigs was where bacon, sausage and pork chops came from.
It was quite experience. The pig show leaders decided to wait and take all the photos of the winning pigs at the end of the show. Unfortunately, it was almost dark when the show got over. So, here all the pigs came, oinking as they slowly shuffled from the barn.
One fellow had a board that looked like a table top and another fellow carried a pan of slop. These pigs were tired and cantankerous. Nothing was working until we finally got one pig to stand still, so it was decided to run all the kids though with their banners for pictures with the same pig.
I’ve photographed a lot of pigs at the many fairs I’ve covered in the years since. And I’ve wrote a lot of feature stories about youngsters and their prize-winning animals and projects.
My oldest nephew, Gavin, used some of my county fair photos from the last few years and put together an iMovie for one of his 4-H Conference judging projects this year. It earned a purple ribbon and a ticket to the state fair. It also gave his uncle a little pride.
In addition to covering the county fair, I also serve as 4-H photography judge and have been judging at various county fairs since 2012.
I’ve seen a lot of great photos and I believe I’ve helped a lot of young people to be better photographers and in the long run, better people.
I’m so very blessed to be able to share my talents and gifts from God through my work. I hope to continue in some fashion in the years ahead, either for a newspaper, a website or some other form of communication.
My camera finger is still in business and I’m ready to take some photos.
Have a great week and always remember that “Good Things are Happening,” every day and always.