I've been thinking about … 4-H.
Channel surfing one night, many years ago, Joe and I happened upon a Community Media Center live broadcast of the Carroll County 4-H Fair livestock auction. This was when we were new to Carroll County and didn't know much. We were mesmerized by the whole thing and watched until the very end.
Two things astounded us. One was the clear realization that it takes three men and the boy or girl in charge to wrangle a pig into the arena and even then things might not go according to plan if the pig has a different idea. The other was the juxtaposition of the size of the 7-year-old boy controlling the 1,300-pound steer he was leading around by the nose. Neither one of us had ever seen anything like that in our lives. We made a decision right then and there to go to the 4-H livestock auction the following year.
When I became the Director of the Community Foundation of Carroll County, it became my job to present scholarships at the 4-H Fair, and so we have gone to every auction since. Each year the Community Foundation of Carroll County presents several scholarships to the eminently qualified 4-H'ers who apply for the Nathan Blizzard, Carroll County 4-H Livestock Club, Donald E. Graff, Danielle Knell Memorial 4-H, Ryan Mackenzie, Karen MacLeod and John J. Mazur Scholarships.
We are not the only presenters. The family of Eddie Harrison and several others are always there as well. These scholarships are presented because it is important to these 4-H families, and therefore to me as well, that these individuals — some 4-H members, others adults who believed in the program — be remembered.
Do you have any idea how difficult it is for a parent to stand up there year after year and talk about their child who died too soon and make it possible for someone's else's child to achieve their dreams? Nathan Blizzard and Eddie Harrison wanted to be farmers, continuing the tradition of their families. John Mazur photographed the fair for many years. The livestock club wants to encourage animal husbandry among Carroll County youth. All the scholarships have their reasons and they are all good and worthy reasons. Every year, several months after the 4-H Fair, we receive donations from people who have purchased an animal at the sale and donated it back to one of the scholarships. We are always grateful and appreciate the thoughtfulness. Someone remembered.
Sometimes I think that in the hectic activity and close scheduling of the fair, that important thought gets lost. It takes all of 15 or 20 minutes to present all the scholarships. Most of the presenters are mindful of the time they take to speak and are good at keeping things moving. So what if it takes a few minutes away from the auction? Isn't the point of the Carroll County 4-H Fair to celebrate, explore and educate the community about farm life? Aren't the people who are being honored by the scholarships and the youngsters being honored with the gifts of the scholarships worthy of a few minutes of thoughtful attention? Aren't these the very people who we hope will carry on the lifestyle that seems to be fading away before our very eyes?
Audrey Cimino is executive director of The Community Foundation of Carroll County. She writes from Westminster.