by Amanda Furman, VA
I wear many different hats: Vet Assistant at Ann Arbor Animal Hospital, student, mom, business owner. And one of my favorites: 4-H leader.
I’m a horse person and a mom of active kids. From my perspective, 4-H is one of the best youth-oriented programs around. I was a member in my youth and I am now an adult leader of a club I was a member of, the Mid-Knight Ryders of Jackson County. Our club’s focus was primarily on horses, but now we are expanding into other areas like dogs, still projects (e.g. arts, crafts, food, floral, photography), sheep & goats, rabbits, and shooting spots.
We have many activities in our horse program and one of the more important is a show for the kids to display their progress with their 4-H project and how much they have learned. We also test their knowledge of horses with a hippology test, and hold a fundraiser series known as the Rose City Show Circuit, which helps to pay for our kids to go to the county fair and participate in various other competitions through the statewide 4-H horse program.
As a club leader I have volunteered to take on the responsibility of organizing and putting on our achievement show and help with organizing our fair shows and our fundraiser show circuit. This may sound like it wouldn’t take much to do, but in fact it takes a lot of planning and prepping. I have been working since December for the show that will take place in June.
I spend my limited free time preparing for the shows. During lunch at work, days off and evenings, I’m designing preregistration forms, showbills and signup sheets, organizing paperwork and finding show judges. Along with counting ribbons and researching to find the best price for ribbons and other awards, I also took on the task of contacting companies to get donations for awards. We have received over $3000 worth of donated items to help award and recognize our kids’ accomplishments!
I’ve written guidelines for the show, class lists, fee structures, and set up a spreadsheet to track points and placings of the classes. I’ll collect all of the entries and organize them into age divisions, and make sure all of the class data is entered and ready for show day. I will also make packets for each participant with their class list, back number for the show, and any other information they will need for the day.
On the day of the show I will be taking entries and making sure everything is ready to go for the day. I’ll greet our judge and make sure she has everything she needs. Along with all of that, I will also have to get my son and step-daughter and their horses ready in the morning and assist them throughout the day.
After the show day is over I still have plenty of work to do. There will be an awards banquet for our participating youth where we will award points and recognize our youth who qualify for the Michigan 4-H State Horse Show in August. I’ll be busy for at least a week making sure points get calculated and awards get personalized for the youth who will be receiving them.
That all sounds like a lot of work—and it is!—but it is a labor of love.
Like I said, volunteering with the Jackson County 4-H as “4-H Leader” is one of my favorite of the many hats I wear. I volunteer my time to this program and I truly love being able to support them and teach them many life lessons; it is the best payment that I can receive. I’ve learned so much with these kids and it is an honor to be able to give back to such a great organization that taught me so much in my life.