“My Favorite Dogs!” That was the name of my first ever 4-H speech; a speech that I did not advance in competition with, but it was a speech that I felt 4th grade was proud to deliver and wanted to get better to move onto the next level! What is interesting about 4-H is that in all of my ten years starting from my local county level to state leadership teams and national initiatives, the origin is the start of a story. I could make this blog about my 4-H story (which may come in the future), but I am more focused on the reader (that’s you!) to encompass what 4-H can do to help develop your story.
1) Find your Passion: I believe that my main passions have grown to be storytelling, communications, and public speaking. With those passions, I’ve been educated more on diversity, equity, and inclusion work so that way there can be equitable opportunities for all. Whether you enjoy fine arts, STEM, civic engagement, advocacy, or agriculture, 4-H wants to help you with your passions. My extension agent, Elizabeth Johnson, always told me that with practice and determination that my public speaking skills will get better. I usually came to her about anything especially if it meant that I could continue sharpening my skills in many areas.
2) Recognize your Past, Present, and Future: When building your story, take into consideration some steps that have already got you to this point. Are there key points that help develop your story? What morals do you hold now? In leadership, we see that philosophers and scholars have discovered different forms, types, and processes of leadership. Similar to storytelling, we see stories develop in their own unique way because of actions through our past or what we want to make of our present lives. No one’s 4-H experience will be the same! We all grow up through the program at different times in different ways, but we value each 4-H’er as they can grow from their past, utilizing present values, and keeping an open mind as to where the future will lead a person.
3) Find your Support/Safe Space: I want you to answer this question: who is the one person that you can rely on? Who are the people that can provide a safe space? There are many people that want to work toward a goal and develop their own story but who’s going to be their first audience? Your friends, family, and those that you trust are going to be the ones that hear your story first. Even better, those people get to become elements and influences of that story. 4-H builds that family to where you should be able to be your authentic self as you soar to greater heights!
Now, reader, I want you to close your eyes and reflect on the journey that you have been so far. Any aspect of your life is a part of that journey, so take your time when you reflect on the past. When you are ready, you can open your eyes to continue reading. Whether you have taken a few minutes or quite some time, you should see where the car has driven and where the rest of the journey will drive. This is your story, not anyone else’s story. Therefore, take the reins and find what makes your story come to life.