It’s official. We, as people of this community, have lost our focus.
Every year the beginning of June, local children from surrounding 4-H clubs rally together to have their achievement days and the regional show at the Battlefords Agricultural Society grounds. This year, the regional show was held June 3. The show is now on a much smaller scale than it once was, but it is something I believe everyone should experience at least once, not because they need to get closer to their rural roots, but more for the opportunity to show those kids support and to see hard work does pay off.
I can hear the talk now. Why would I want to go see cows and horses? But here is the thing, 4-H is so much more. There are close to 30 different projects available for children to explore, and most of those do not have anything to do with any kind of animal. It is a great environment for kids to learn, what I believe to be, one of the simplest lines to live by, the 4-H motto — Learn To Do By Doing.
You can see the pride on the faces of all the kids, and the hours they have spent on their projects is evident. It makes many a parent, relative and 4-H leader puff out their chests in pride to see those children shine.
The Regional Show was quite the showcase. The children did well in their horse and beef classes. The multiple project displays were excellent. Archery was right on target. But I have to admit, that when the beef sale came on that Sunday evening I was, for lack of a better word, embarrassed and extremely disappointed for our beef kids.
When a child is selling their market steer, they depend on local businesses to bid on and buy their animal. Most kids try to knock on doors, shake hands and ask for the support of those business owners, through either sponsorship of the show itself or buying an animal. Businesses that do purchase a steer can have the animal taken for slaughter and have the meat processed for personal consumption or it can be purchased and then resold at a livestock auction for market price. The difference between the two purchase prices can be used for a business tax exemption. F
For most beef kids, these funds from the sale of their steers are put towards their post-secondary education. There are over 600 businesses, charities and miscellaneous organizations listed with the Battlefords Chamber of Commerce. So you ask why I was embarrassed? Do you know how many businesses were represented to support our beef kids? Fewer than 20.
My hope is that the lack of attendance and support from local people during the show and at the sale was because of the weather and busy schedules. I know it is unrealistic to expect every business owner to be present at every local function of every club in the Battlefords area. Nor is every business expected to either sponsor an event or, in 4-H terms, purchase a child’s market steer. Upon reviewing the Chamber’s list, of which anyone can get a copy, in my opinion there are not too many establishments listed that do not have some sort of ties to agriculture. There are many that need the patronage of rural families to keep their doors open.
Our community is known as and is proud of being a “Community of Volunteers.” We are fortunate enough to have thriving cultural groups, fantastic sports teams and a wide variety of clubs for our children to enjoy and feel safe to be a part of. The groups of volunteers that help keep those organizations running are irreplaceable and greatly appreciated. I think support for these groups, teams and clubs needs to be given from all local people, including the city and town offices, business representatives, parents, friends, long-lost cousins and maybe even a cherished pet or two!.
This is our chance as a community to learn how to get back to the basics, which should be building a future for our children through love, support and being role models. Not being present or a part of local functions is poor leadership from us as adults. It shows our children that their hard work is not important. So then you can get back to the 4-H motto of Learn To Do By Doing. And what were those 4-H kids shown by us as a community on that weekend? I saw it as “Learn To Do By Doing Nothing.”
My intention in writing this letter was not to condemn businesses or individuals or local clubs. The intention is to get people talking about getting out and supporting those kids. Any attendance is better than none. Help fill those bleachers so when those children look in those stands they see them full of people who cheer them on and say, “Good job. Way to go.” If you can go to afternoon coffee row, then you have the time to go support those kids. And this is at any function where children are present. Those precious kids need us. If we can give children that positive foundation to build on, their goals will seem easier to reach and mountains easier to climb. One of the best rewards is a child’s smile, don’t you think?
That weekend opened my eyes to a few things, the most important one being that I, too, have had lack of focus. So tell me: where is your focus?
Proud Mom, 4-H leader and supporter