A Letter From 4-H’er Sherry F

To thank the Hancock County 4-H Leaders Association for the wonderful travel opportunities she’s had this year, 4-H youth Sherry has shared her appreciation and experiences through the letter penned below.

“I want to thank the Hancock Four girls with their backs to the camera looking at the Washington monument at duskCounty 4-H Leaders Association so much for making it possible for me not only to attend the National 2022 4-H Healthy Living Summit, but also the 2022 Citizen Washington Focus Trip! 

Both experiences have given me a wider and deeper perspective on not only what it means and all that living healthy entails, but also what having civil conversations about important topics really looks like, even when the two or more parties conversing have totally different philosophies and perspectives. 

4-H youth pictured with statue of Eleanor RooseveltIt was truly amazing to see all the monuments and memorials. I especially felt moved by the memorial at the Pentagon, as well as the changing of the guard at the tomb of the unknown soldier. I was truly blown away by all the care, attention, and detail of all the memorials and monuments. When walking through and looking at all the special markers of American history you can feel the significance and magnitude of each detail. From the way the eyes follow every point of the Korean Memorial, to show that at every second of the war the soldiers had to carefully protect themselves and their comrades, to the changing of the water types at the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial (loud rushing water for times of chaos and calm still water for somber hopeful times).

Not only did I see some amazing aspects and past historical times brought to life by moving and captivating monuments and memorials, but I met some amazing new people from my own state as well as from all over the country! If I hadn’t had the opportunity to attend this year’s CWF trip I might never have met some of the amazing people I met and learned so much from. I also might not have gotten great exposure to so many different, and at times polarizing, perspectives and points of view! I made so many new friends and met so many interesting people who made the trip super enjoyable and meaningful. I’ll never forget the sights seen and the people I met during this year’s 2022 Citizen Washington Focus trip! 

Four 4-H youths sitting in front of a Maine statueNow for this year’s 4-H National Healthy Living Summit! Leave it up to 4-H to be able to pack a week’s worth of activities into just 3 days! The Healthy Living Summit was not only my first national trip, but also my first national 4-H experience, and it was a great one! I loved each of the workshops I attended and I learned so much from each of them! I met some really great people from my very own state and was able to grow so close to them and keep in touch with most of them, even though I haven’t seen them since the trip and don’t live close enough to easily visit. 

During these trips, I learned about the science behind addiction. It gave me a new perspective on people who struggle with addictions, whatever they may be, as well as compassion and hopefully more understanding of what people with addictions go through. I also learned a little about small space gardening and gained some new ideas for how to maximize a small space for gardening, which is an all-around win-win situation because most of the small space strategies involve reusing lots of materials that usually just get discarded and/or wasted. I also learned about more inclusive and correct language specifically gender-neutral and inclusive terms, and some of the many different pronouns that exist, both of which were really exciting and interesting to me since I didn’t know many of the pronouns I was exposed to.

Five 4-H youth smiling at the cameraSome other highlights of the conferences I attended were new tools and coping mechanisms for dealing with stress and anxiety, which are useful because stress and anxiety are an everyday occurrence for me and most people. I also learned ways to efficiently and effectively make decisions in a healthy manner. Lastly, my favorite conference I attended was actually the one that Maine brought and presented, which was one on empowerment of self and communities, and the conference did just that in only 45 minutes so the small group that attended that one session with me already felt safe and comfortable enough to open up and really share their thoughts, feelings, and personal values and identities. It was truly special and humbling. During the whole mini-conference, I felt that I was part of a larger community, even though many of the people there I’d only just briefly met and there were some that I hadn’t even met yet. By the end of the conference, I felt reconnected to myself, and those around me, and empowered to face the rest of my day! 

However, the conference wasn’t the only great thing about the trip, I also loved the nighttime trip around D.C. and all the lovely people I met. I met some really cool people who I’m glad to have met and gotten to talk to and know. By the end of those three days I felt changed, empowered, and ready to act on all that I’d learned, as well as extremely grateful for the experience and very sad to say goodbye to all the lovely new people and friends I had made. 

To conclude I’m deeply thankful and grateful for both experiences. I learned so much, gained new perspectives, and met some truly AMAZING people. I will never forget these trips and will forever remember them fondly! I hope that I’ll be able to attend both the Healthy Living Summit and Agriculture Science Summit next year (2023) before I age out of 4-H. “

-Sherry F 

Three 4-H youth under the American flag made out of sheet metal