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Here is a story written by a 4-Her that the judges thought was very well written. The youth author of this story has given us permission to print it here so you can read it and know what components are in a good story.

I have interests in a variety of activities including playing and listening to music, photography, scrapbooking, horseback riding, and dog training. I have been playing the clarinet and piano for seven years and played the saxophone and guitar for two years. I currently play the piano and clarinet in my school’s jazz band and concert band respectively. A large interest of mine that has captivated me for twelve years is horseback riding. I started out taking lessons and attending day camps and now train a pony for a therapeutic riding center.

An interest that has always held a huge place in my heart since I was very young is dog training and showing. I have a love and passion for dogs that has shaped my life for the better. At my local fair I had always seen exhibits by 4-H members and had always wanted to join but thought that I couldn’t without an animal. When I was in sixth grade I joined a 4-H Dog Club after a friend in a 4-H Horse Club introduced me to my current 4-H leader. I was invited to try a training meeting, where I instantly fell in love with dog agility training, and subsequently 4-H and the 4-H Dog Program.

The life skills that I have learned and the knowledge that I have gained from 4-H have affected my daily life quite a bit. I use the life skills of communication, planning and organizing, stress management and self-motivation for activities in and out of school. These four life skills are major contributors to my success in school. The 4-H life skill of resiliency has also played a large role in my life. I learned the skill of resiliency while showing my dogs at dog agility and 4-H dog shows. When I first started showing I would get very sad if I lost. I soon learned that a loss at a show was not the end of my dreams. Resiliency taught me that there will always be another day to improve and achieve. Another major experience where the life skills of resiliency and managing feelings helped me was the recent death of my father. Shortly after my father’s death our Standard Poodle Fancy also passed away. By utilizing these skills the challenges that I have faced have become a little easier.

In 4-H I have had many opportunities to work with and teach other youth. Working with and helping to teach others my age has helped my communication skills, ability to work well with others, goal setting ability, and personal safety. When working with youth I have to make sure that I am clear in what I am saying. With the life skill of communication I have been able to clearly and effectively explain my ideas and suggestions in a way that other youth can understand. The life skill of teamwork has allowed me to work effectively with youth in and out of 4-H. By using teamwork I worked with my teammates and friends on the 2008 Eastern States Exposition 4-H Dog Team to win third place in the team Quiz Bowl Competition. In my 4-H Club we often set individual and group goals by using the skills of teamwork and goal setting. My ability to set attainable goals and contribute to club goals has led to my success as a dog trainer and 4-H member. At Maine 4-H Days Dog Camp I worked with and taught many 4-H youth and their dogs. While teaching many different dogs and trainers I had to learn to keep myself, my dogs and others safe. 4-H and the 4-H life skills have greatly helped me work with other youth in 4-H, school, and anywhere else the situation may arise.

While in 4-H I have had many opportunities to show my strong leadership skills. I have been the President of my 4-H Club for three years. In those three years I have organized a club float, multiple club exhibits for the Cumberland Fair, and other activities within the club. I was also the Project Manager of my Honors Earth Science Biosite Class Project. While leader of the Biosite Project I had to organize my fellow classmates so that we could produce a well-researched publication and presentation to a panel of teachers. I found leading my class to be entertaining, challenging, and a great learning experience. I have also been able to show my leadership ability in 4-H by being the Junior Coordinator of the Animal Sciences Dog Committee. While on the committee I have steadily increased my role to include contacting presenters, buying needed supplies, creating presenter gift bags, and teaching several workshops. When buying items for the committee I use my financial resources wisely and do inventory checks to make sure that I am not buying more than I need.

My communication skills have helped me to work well with various age groups. All of my leadership activities have gone well as a result of my effective communication skills. Throughout these leadership roles I have had to make decisions affecting everyone involved. I generally like to get feedback from those that I am leading and then make a decision. When group conferencing is not the easiest or most efficient way to decide I will make the decision that I feel is the most beneficial to all involved. Since I tend to be a natural leader, 4-H has helped to give me a place to show this side of myself.

Community service is something that I value very highly. I learned how to be an active volunteer through Girl Scouts. Throughout the years that I was in Girl Scouts I did many service projects for my local community and fellow Girl Scouts. Some of these activities included planting flowers at the rotary, sorting Girl Scout Cookie orders, and running Girl Scout Camporee. The biggest community service project that I did as a Girl Scout was the Bronze Award; the highest possible award for a Junior Girl Scout to earn. In order to receive the Bronze Award my troop and I planned, bought, cooked and served a meal for the Ronald McDonald House in Portland as well as other projects showing our leadership, planning, and community service skills.

When I was in eighth grade I was a member of the Helping Hands Service Club. While in the club I helped sell candy canes for a fundraiser, sold food and supervised at a sixth grade dance and volunteered at a nursing home. While at the nursing home I played bingo with the residents and helped decorate for Valentine’s Day.  In 4-H I have also done many community service projects such as helping to plan, and gathering donations, for Dog Camp. I also volunteered at a local Dog Show and created the plan to make a Broad Jump to donate to Dog Camp as my club’s yearly community service project.

The largest ongoing community service project that I have participated in is volunteering for Riding to the Top, a Therapeutic Riding Center near my home. At Riding to the Top I started as barn help; mucking out stalls, feeding & watering horses, moving hay, and doing other barn chores. I then began side-walking and leading horses during lessons. I currently lead horses in lessons once a week and am a member of their volunteer schooling team which allows capable RTT volunteers to train one of their horses on a weekly basis. I love volunteering because it is a very rewarding experience for everyone involved.

My participation in 4-H has enriched my life and helped me to become who I am today. I believe that without 4-H I would still be a great person due to the values I have learned but I would not have the experience and life skills that 4-H participation provides. After completing high school I would like to attend a four-year college such as Saint Joseph’s College, Bates, Bridgewater College, or the University of Mary Washington. My likely plan is to major in History with a minor in Secondary Education at one of these schools so that I may teach youth in grades 7 – 12.  4-H has shown me that I like teaching people new things. It is a good feeling to know that you have improved someone’s chances at achieving what they want by teaching them a specific skill. I would also like to own my own dog training business. I would not have as much knowledge as I do about training different types of dogs in different sports if it wasn’t for my participation in the 4-H Dog Program. One final thing that I know I would like to do is become an AKC Junior Showmanship Judge in order to help youth achieve their goals with their dogs. No matter where I go or what I do I wish to continue to support the 4-H Dog Program in any way that I can so that other youth can have the opportunities that I have had.

Word Count: 1,517 words


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