My Head to Clearer Thinking
Growing up, being in 4-H was a big part of my life. I learned public speaking through demonstrations and holding various offices in the club. I made life-long friends from different schools, like Kathy Tomac who was older and went to Escondido High, and Leslee Woods who was younger. Later, I decorated Kathy’s 4-tier wedding cake as a wedding present.
I learned “accounting” by keeping a record book and determining a profit/loss after raising a sheep and then selling it at the livestock auction. I went on to be an accountant/CPA.
In high school, 4-H was a VERY embarrassing thing for a "semi-cool kid" like me at OGHS - if we were considered cool? I dated a football player and my best friend was best friends with a truly cool kid, Anne McLeod. Anne was a cheerleader, homecoming princess, etc. You might wonder why I was best friends with a person who had another best friend? That was because my football player boyfriend was very jealous – of even my best friend. He was especially jealous of my 4-H guy friends. But when I met my husband Keith, he ended up becoming friends with my guy 4-H friends, Cliff and Danah - even selected them as groomsmen. After we got married, Keith and I went on to be the Hi-4-H leaders for the next few years. Then after we moved to Arizona where Keith helped bring Palo Verde Nuclear Generating Station online, I was a leader for sheep, rabbits and photography. 4-H is an unusual youth club; the organization is administered by the National Institute of Food and Agriculture of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) - through the University system's Extension Service. I can still remember the pledge
I pledge my head to clearer thinking,
my heart to greater loyalty,
my hands to larger service,
and my health to better living,
for my club, my community, my country, and my world (world was added in the 1970s)
A clear head? That was hard as we left childhood and became teenagers. 4-H might have been okay at Escondido High which had FFA and lots of farm kids and many 4-H kids went there for their Ag program like my neighbor, Danah. But at OGHS I rarely mentioned 4-H at school and didn't hang out with any of them - but my 4-H friendships were genuine. I am still in touch with Danah’s mother who was our neighbor on La Honda the person who got me involved in 4-H. Danah passed away many, many years ago, but I still think of him often. His cousin, little Leslie is now a successful real estate agent in Texas, married to the Sheriff. In my 1971 4-H story that we had to complete each year, I write, “In January, Leslie Woods – 9 years old asked me to help her with her demonstration. I ended [up] giving it with her. I feel “demonstration” is a very valuable activity. It not only builds public speaking courage but also allows members to share their knowledge. I helped Peggy Frazee with Hi-4H Novice Demonstration Day and was the Mistress of Ceremony.”
Over the years as a computer programmer, whenever the discussion turned towards levels of “nerdiness” as a kid - I would rank at the top when I pulled out this 6th-grade picture.
To this day, I still sew, grow food and decorate cakes (a few of my 4-H projects) but don’t raise sheep anymore. I have a tiny yard that I use to learn how to grow food.
My senior year, I was the recipient of the Junior Livestock Auction scholarship which helped pay for my first year of college. My plan after high school was to attend CalPoly where I had a scholarship and teach the world how to grow food...but a slight diversion happened. Now that I’m retired, I'm trying to get back to agriculture and always have 2-3 backyard experiments going. My goal is to find the best salt-tolerant crops to feed a hungry world. I’ve signed up to be a Master Gardener with the University of Florida Extension Service and hope to complete that in the fall. I think that is rather a full circle - writing about middle school when I was in so much pain - and remembering 4-H and the friends that helped me survive.
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