I pledge:
my head to clearer thinking,
my heart to greater loyalty,
my hands to larger service,
my health to better living,
for my club, my community and my country.

The 4-H pledge was one of the first sayings that I had to commit to memory. As a young member of the South Side Eagles 4-H Club, I could have been called upon at any meeting to lead the club through its recitation.

The pledge is said at the beginning of the meeting to remind every member of the four values the program is based upon – head, heart, hands and health.

Those values are the foundation for this youth program that promotes fun, hands-on learning activities focused on leadership, citizenship and life skills.

To see that Canada 4-H is celebrating its 100th anniversary this year is a demonstration of the strength of these values and the countless individuals – be they members, volunteers, staff or alumni – who uphold them.

In essence, the 4-H pledge also reminds a person to commit their whole being to the purpose at hand. One must be entirely present in what they desire to do or they will not truly fulfill the pledge or accomplish the task to the best of their ability.

Similar to the fact that 4-H applies to rural and urban youth, these values can carry through to any endeavor you pursue. Here are some examples of how head, heart, hands and health might apply to operating a dairy farm.

Are you clearly thinking through your actions each day or, too often, are you caught up in a routine?

We live in an information age; there is no better time to use records and data to help you better manage your farm, to be able to think clearly and make decisions based on what the numbers can show.

If you ask me, farmers are a loyal bunch. It is a difficult and demanding job, and many people wouldn’t do it if they didn’t simply love farming. Ask yourself: Are you doing this because you love the actions or because you are committed to producing a safe, nutritious product?

Today’s consumers want to know how loyal you are to the end product and to taking good care of your animals. Milk quality and animal welfare aren’t just trends; they are evidence of a dairy farmer’s devotion to doing the best that they can.

Are you using your hands for greater service? A pair of weathered hands is a symbol of a hardworking farmer. While a skid loader has replaced the pitchfork, there are still plenty of ways to use your hands for service in farming.

Even something as simple as giving a pat on the back can go a long way in providing service and encouragement to your employees or family members working with you.

You spend your day caring for cattle, and what you do helps to provide for your family, but are you taking time to take care of yourself? Farm labour can be hard to come by. What will happen to your farm if you’re laid up due to an illness or accident? Remember, safety first.

And beyond
The pledge concludes with “for my club, my community and my country.” 4-H teaches leadership and citizenship. What can you do to make an impact on the dairy industry and in your community?

Two shining examples of this can be found by clicking here, as a dairy farm in Alberta and another in Ontario hosted Breakfast on the Farm last month.

Whether or not you’ve spoken the 4-H pledge, the values it represents can adhere to whatever it is you commit yourself to doing.

Happy anniversary, Canada 4-H; here’s to another 100 years.  PD


Karen Lee

Karen Lee

Progressieve Dairyman magazin