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Posted: May 3, 2014 10:00 p.m.

4-H graduates ready to conquer world

My husband said he ought to look up an old teacher from high school — a teacher, who for some reason, seemed to think he should learn certain math skills before graduating.

My husband didn’t agree, and insisted he didn’t even want a diploma.

He wanted to tell the teacher how he’s now learning and practicing those math skills as he prepares for a professional licensing test.

Isn’t it funny how the things that don’t seem important in school turn out otherwise years later?

For me, my least favorite part of school was group assignments.

Worse than the one who didn’t do their share was the one who spit in his hand during square dancing lessons in gym.

Yuck.

Turns out, you still have to put up with those people as an adult, too.

I think that’s the hardest part of my job — teaching kids that life isn’t always fair. There’s no standardized test at the end of 4-H, just real life.

Bullies always exist —we just learn how to stop them from affecting our sense of self-worth.

There will always be that person who doesn’t do their share. But sometimes you’ll glimpse the underlying reason that keeps them from focusing on the task at hand.

And sometimes we have to do math that we never planned on using.

As I look at this year’s 4-H graduates, I see so many lessons they’ve learned — and taught —over the last eight or nine years.

As Bradford Porter graduates from Newton High, an image of him as a middle school camper comes to mind.
He attended camp that first time thanks to a scholarship from a local company — and he came back from camp so excited.

He’s also served as an officer, taught public speaking to other youth, and did a lot of community service with us, but I can’t help but think that one week at camp is why you’ll find him working as a camp counselor this summer at Rock Eagle 4-H Center before he heads off to UGA.

Michelle Lewis, Liz Simpson and Solange Lord are graduating from Eastside High.

All three are so talented and creative, but in such different ways. Michelle is the crafter, Liz is the cook and Solange is a musician.

Michelle and Liz have served in various leadership roles with our club, Health Rocks and Relay for Life.

Liz has already filled out her adult volunteer application with us, so I know we haven’t seen the last of her, even if she is ready to travel the world before settling down in college, hopefully at Berry. When she makes it to New Zealand, I hope she has a little pavlova for me.

Solange is headed to Brenau University next year, while Michelle enrolls at Emanuel College.

Every time parents ask about Wilderness Challenge Camp for middle school youths, the image of Michelle dressed in mud-soaked clothes, kneepads and a hard hat, crossing a wooden bridge on her hands and knees nearly in tears at the head of our caving group comes to mind.

I think Michelle might have signed up for that camp with me because I said it would be fun. I’m not sure she knew just how scared she would be of the 4.5 hour caving trip. But she never turned back —she conquered that cave, as I know she’ll conquer other challenges.

Trent Fowler, Allison Fish and Noelle Holder have each been involved with horse club for many years.
Allison and Noelle will graduate from Eastside, just before competing in their last 4-H horse show.

Trent graduates from Eastminster School and has mastered twice during his 4-H career: once in hippology, a horse knowledge competition, and once at the State 4-H Horse Show.

All three are headed to Athens as Bulldogs next fall along with Bradford.

Some of these graduates have firm plans in mind: law school veterinary school or even just escaping Covington.
Of course, there’s another lesson I think they’ll learn like I did — you never know what’s in store a few years down the road.

What I do know is that the skills they’ve learned and practiced since fourth or fifth grade in 4-H will take them anywhere.

Congratulations, graduates.

Terri Kimble Fullerton is a Newton County 4-H Agent through UGA Cooperative Extension. She can be reached at tkimble@uga.edu.

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