Amanda Simmons | 4/24/2015 11:07:45 PM
When looking back at the history of the LSU AgCenter 4-H Youth Development Program, you find a rich tradition that has made a positive impact on a massive number of people on so many levels and I am one of those people. Today, as the Lincoln Parish 4-H Agent, I am able to witness how 4-H continues to make a positive impact on so many every day and I focus my attention towards the future of 4-H and the youth that is serves.
As I think about this topic, of looking back and looking forward, I think about memories made and memories yet to be made. I have had to deal with many losses in my life, just as all of us have. In order to deal with those losses I have always turned to my memories to help me through. I have always considered my memories the greatest gifts I have. Some of my best memories are from my childhood. Cynthia Ozick wrote, “What we remember from childhood we remember forever – permanent ghosts, stamped, inked, imprinted, eternally seen.” Of course, some of my memories contain bad times but the good memories from my childhood greatly outnumber the bad.
Now that I am an adult and have two children of my own I realize that it is my job to provide the great gift of memories to them. I pride myself in placing utmost importance on making memories with my children and also providing opportunities for them to make memories of their own. I’m not going to candy-coat this task as being something that just comes easy – it definitely does not. Making memories with my children takes work and thought. Also, providing opportunities for them to make memories of their own many times means that we must let go, give them some freedom, and yes, even let them experience failure and disappointment. The latter is most likely the hardest part of this job for parents – I know it is for me.
All of this being said, there is one thing that I try to keep in mind and hope all of you will too; grand memories can be made from the smallest of gestures. Now, you may not think that the kids of today think anything small could be grand, but I have been surprised many times by the things my children share with me from their memories. Things that did not even register with me as being noteworthy at all end up being listed as one of their top five. Barbara Kingsolver wrote in Animal Dreams, “It's surprising how much memory is built around things unnoticed at the time.”
So, you’re asking, “Wasn’t she writing about 4-H? What does all of this have to do with 4-H?” To tell you the truth – a lot! As I stated earlier, some of my best memories are from my childhood and many of those childhood memories revolve around 4-H. I joined 4-H in the 4th grade and I have to say, my parents were great at giving me the freedom to participate in those 4-H opportunities that gave me fantastic experiences and memories. As someone who relies on her gifts of memories every day, I am asking parents to strongly consider giving your children the gift of memories made. They are gifts that don’t have to cost a fortune like many of the toys and electronics do, but at the same time they are priceless and your children will value them more than any material thing. I know I cherish mine. But please remember, as parents, you have to hold strong to your convictions because you may not witness the desired gratitude from your children for your efforts immediately. Keep in mind, they are children! The gratitude may not come until years later when they are adults – and that’s ok – because that is when they will need those gifts of memories most of all.
I encourage parents to consider getting their children involved in the future of 4-H so that they can be a youth that 4-H serves with fantastic experiences and memories. One of the great things about 4-H is that it offers opportunities for parents to make memories with their children, as well as providing opportunities for children to make memories of their own.
For information about how to be involved in Lincoln Parish 4-H and for a list of the opportunities coming up in Lincoln Parish 4-H, please call 318-251-5134.