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Where Has the Time Gone?

By Ron Drum, Statewide 4-H Program Professional/Associate Director 4-H Resource Development

It wasn’t supposed to be “permanent” anyway, if anything ever is. It was a two-year appointment that brought me back to Maine in 2015. At the time this started I thought, “Oh two years! That’s a good long time!” Then I blinked and it was gone.

Turns out that two years isn’t very long at all.

In fact, some folks who knew me back when I was here in the ’90s haven’t yet even realized that I returned! And now I’ve left again! That’s right, I’m gone again. I’ve returned to Pennsylvania, back where I started.

But my-oh-my what a two years it has been. I wouldn’t trade these last two years for anything. I really don’t think I deserved them. After all, I had already been given 6.5 years as a member of UMaine’s State 4-H Staff in the 1990s to live and work in Maine. So I was beside myself to actually get to come back to live in and work in and enjoy the state of Maine for two more years!

That’s two more winters (although the 2015 winter wasn’t much, the 2016 winter, with not one but TWO BLIZZARDS, kind of made up for it),

snow-filled path to Wells Conference Center at UMaine

Wells Conference Center on the UMaine Orono campus. That’s my briefcase sitting against the snow.

trace of fresh snow beside the road; cell phone screen reads: Thursday, April 20, 2017

Yes, that is snow on the ground in April. I know it happens, but still!

two more mud seasons (what those from the lower 47 call “spring”),

two more summers (well, two Julys at least),

Hannibal Hamlin’s grave Mt Hope Cemetery, Bangor July 23, 2016.

Hannibal Hamlin’s grave
Mt Hope Cemetery, Bangor
July 23, 2016.

Rubber glove looks like a lizard foot

I hope it is Halloween! Otherwise, I need to see a DOCTOR!

and, the season I REALLY enjoy, two more autumns filled with orange pumpkins and children’s laughter and wonderful, colorful autumn Leaves — and don’t forget National 4-H Week!

In a previous blog post, called “Maine, the Way Gifts Should Be,” I spoke of the wonders of Maine so I won’t repeat myself here. Just know, if you haven’t read that post, or don’t know from personal experience, the wonders of Maine are truly wonderful. They, in fact, can take your breath away!

But when I was here in the ’90s, it was all about the programs happening right then. We were developing teen conferences, and establishing experiences like Maine 4-H Days; it was all about the Animal Science Commodity Committees and 4-H Volunteer Forums; it was all about who was representing Maine at the Eastern States Exposition, National 4-H Congress, Citizenship Washington Focus, and National 4-H Conference. It was all about working with so many wonderful people, too many to list, just to make Maine 4‑H happen.

This time around it was different. This time, it was all about learning new stuff! To use the words of a recent Maine 4-H Camper, “I learned things I didn’t even know existed!” This time the work was partly about the future — program evaluation to make our best better, utilizing online meeting technology to reach new audiences, exploiting new technologies such as Virtual Reality to enhance the learning experience —

and partly about YOU — establishing a 4-H Volunteer recognition program so our volunteers know they are truly needed and appreciated and, so I could tell their stories, learning about all the wonderful Maine people who have helped, and continue to help, make Maine 4‑H the great program it is today.

And I got to tell those stories to the WORLD!

We did that primarily by establishing the 4-H Fix blog. Through it we met folks like Kay and Virginia Ward, Lydia Schofield, Betsy Carroll Anastasoff, F. Harold Bickford, not one, but TWO Maine 4-H Brownie Browns (Mildred and Harold), Evelyn Trotzky, and SO many more! This isn’t even CLOSE to a complete list! What great people live here in Maine! What great fun it was to learn your stories and even GREATER fun TELLING your stories!

But that’s all over now. My two year hitch is up and I am back in Pennsylvania. So what about this blog? Now that I’ve left, is this the end of the 4-H Fix?

Well, perhaps not an “end” but change is certainly in the wind! Stories from now through the end of this year will appear once per month. I’ll have a few more this fall. In October read all about Maine 4-H Clubs and in November the Maine 4-H Champions take center stage. My final post will appear in December; that one being all about 4‑H Singing! However, you’ll also see at least one story by someone else this fall and maybe more next year, time will tell. However, next month, September, look forward to a story by Laura Wilson. She’ll tell you all about a UMaine 4-H experience called “Follow a Researcher®” or FAR for short.

But for this post, let’s end with yet another story! This one is not a Maine 4-H story (but I wish it were!) or even about Maine at all. It is a 4-H story from the days long past, before there was a “4-H” in Maine; almost before 4-H existed anywhere.

The year was 1910. What we call “4-H” today was then just in its infancy, not even a “real” program yet. Just some young people in clubs working on projects under the guidance of Extension educators. To help people learn what value could be had from “Extension Club Work,” eleven Club Members from various places across the country were identified as being exemplary in their project work. These eleven young men had achieved substantial successes under extraordinarily difficult conditions proving just how good this new “club-work” idea was! They were awarded scholarships and given other material prizes (farm animals, equipment, and so forth). They were also sent to Washington, D.C. as Extension Club Work representatives. They got to see the sites of the city while meeting with various dignitaries to explain what they were learning and doing.

One of those dignitaries was the President of the United States, William Howard Taft. After making a bit of “small talk” and hearing them each tell their extraordinary success stories, Taft turned to one of them and asked, “Do you think you can do as well next year?”

I think I can do better,” came the response.

It became the standard by which 4-H has guided itself ever since. To Make the Best Better. 4-H’ers continue to do this every day and, as far as we know, will continue to do so for a long time yet to come.

Given what I’ve seen here in Maine, I know this will be the case here! Thank you for letting me be a part of it! Now TWICE!

For your next 4-H Fix, return in September when we will take you on a 4-H journey to the FAR corners of the earth but you really only have to travel as far as this blog!

Were you a 4-H Member?

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Click here to learn how to support UMaine 4-H.

University of Maine Cooperative Extension conducts the state’s most successful out-of-school youth educational program through 4-H, a positive youth development program that has been empowering young people in Maine to reach their full potential since 1913.

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