Lori Gallimore, Extension Specialist
Even as adults, we still get excited over Christmas morning! Sure … there is a lot of work that we, as parents, caregivers and community leaders, have to do to get ready for the big day. But the excitement and anticipation of what that sacred morning brings overshadows all of the laborious efforts. This past Thursday was my Christmas morning!
The 4-H Project Portfolios were due at 11:59 p.m. this past Wednesday evening. I have been questioning our 4-H Area Extension Specialists about questions they have received about the portfolios over the last few weeks. My inbox has been relatively empty and phone calls limited in regard to portfolio questions. I have been cautiously optimistic about what that meant. Were you okay with the process? Were things going well? Or had you just decided to bail on the entire process? Like me, our Area Specialists also indicated that things, for the most part, were very quiet.
All day Wednesday, I kept a cautious eye on SUPER registration. Slowly the numbers began to increase. When I turned my computer off for the last time on Wednesday night, the portfolio numbers were a dismal 166. I had packed my phone with me all evening and regularly checked email for the last-minute issues. I felt like a kid again … peeking around the corner at the Christmas tree in hopes that Santa had arrived early.
The second my alarm went off on Thursday morning at 5:30 a.m., I grabbed my phone and a pair of reading glasses (SUPER is really, really small that early in the morning and on an iPhone!) and hastily pulled up the registration database.
There in the database was 215 of the most glorious entries that I had ever seen! I took a moment to say a prayer of thanks. Pride overwhelmed me as I thought about all of the workshops, meetings and I’m-going-to-pull-my-hair-out evenings that you all had spent working with your 4-H’ers to build those web-based portfolios. We’ve been down a very, long and challenging road of moving from the traditional, green book to our current model. I know! It’s been hard! Like you, I have cried, screamed and shouted all throughout the process.
I am so proud of Tennessee 4-H!
So, I wanted to take this opportunity to say “THANK YOU!” Whether you are a 4-H Agent, Area Specialist, volunteer, 4-H parent, or a Tennessee 4-H’er, your efforts just made history! We have catapult- ed into the 21st century with a portfolio model that other states are salivating over. I am confident that this model – though not without some more tweaking – will benefit our 4-H members. As the base for a career portfolio, these websites will put our 4-H members ahead of the game in terms of life skills. This is a tool that they will be able to build upon and use to seek entry in colleges and post-high school education, careers and scholarships — long after their 4-H careers have ended. This is what we do! We teach life skills. And you just did it! You are simply the best! I hope that you will take some time to celebrate and reflect on what you have just accomplished as the judging of those portfolios has now begun! Merry Christmas, everyone!
This is a tool that they will be able to build upon and use to seek entry in colleges and post-high school education, careers and scholarships — long after their 4-H careers have ended.