Giving Back and Paying it Forward

The Importance of 4-H & FFA Youth Donations from the Sale of Livestock Projects

By: Doug Foxx, Extension Educator – 4-H Youth Development, Wayne County

WCFWe are blessed in Wayne County to have one of the strongest 4-H and Junior Fair programs in the United States.  Annually, more than 2,000 livestock projects are exhibited at the Wayne County Fair by 4-H and FFA youth that make up our Junior Fair.  We are also blessed to have a beautiful fairgrounds with a Senior Fair Board that regularly invests in maintaining and upgrading facilities, attracts top-notch entertainment, honors our county’s rich agricultural heritage, and is committed to supporting our 4-H and FFA youth throughout the year, not just during fair-time.  Furthermore, Wayne County also has a dedicated team of Ohio State University Extension professionals and volunteers that work with the Fair Board to make the Junior Fair experience possible.

As fair-week approaches and throughout the fair it is important that we all pause, reflect on, and take time to appreciate just how wonderful our Junior Fair program is in Wayne County.  Without the dedication and support of everyone involved – youth, parents, volunteers, committee members, staff, livestock buyers, and many others – our 4-H and FFA projects and our fair experience would not be possible.

4HlivestocklogoWe have many great traditions at the Wayne County Fair but one that I want to call your attention to is the tradition and importance of 4-H and FFA youth giving back and paying it forward for future generations by donating a portion of the proceeds from the sale of their livestock projects.  Often youth choose to give a percentage such as 2%, 5% or 10% or a flat dollar amount such as $10, $25, $100, etc.  Every donation, small or large, is important and valued.  To make a donation, over the years livestock exhibitors have filled out a green card when waiting in line to go through the auction.  The youth exhibitor then hands the card to the auctioneer when they enter the sale ring.  The auctioneer announces the amount or percentage and which fund the exhibitor has chosen to support.

The green donation cards allow youth to support the Hugh Kline Wayne County 4-H Endowment Fund, the General 4-H Scholarship Fund, Doyle Findley Scholarship Fund (available to both 4-H and FFA members), and other special funds and causes as needs have emerged over the years. A new fund has been established this year – the Wayne County 4-H Youth Development Fund.  This fund will be used for current and emerging program needs such as partial or full scholarships for youth to attend 4-H camp, teen leadership development programs, and volunteer training.  A shining example of our youth’s ability to give back was in 2001 when terrorists attacked our nation on 9/11.  That year Wayne County 4-H and FFA youth collectively donated more than $24,000 from the sale of their livestock projects to support the American Red Cross in their work to manage the 9/11 disaster.

Youth giving back and paying it forward to others is a valuable life lesson in sharing, helping others, being philanthropic, and appreciating the gifts they have been given.  Last year 4-H and FFA youth provided more than $4,000 in essential support for our scholarship funds and programs funded by the endowment.

Donating is each individual exhibitor’s choice.  I encourage livestock exhibitors and parents of livestock exhibitors to talk about it and thoughtfully consider making a donation.  I remember filling out a green card and donating a portion of the sale of my animals year after year during the livestock auctions when I was in 4-H and now as the steward of these funds it is incredibly rewarding to see the impact that they are having through college scholarships awarded to 4-H and FFA members, sponsorships for youth to participate in state and national 4-H trips, support for our livestock judging teams, grants awarded to 4-H clubs for new and innovative projects they want to do, and in so many other ways.

There are also opportunities for non-livestock youth, parents, 4-H alumni, and businesses / organizations to donate directly to these funds and other Wayne County Extension Development Funds anytime throughout the year.  Contact the Extension Office at (330) 264-8722 for more information or if you are interested in donating or know someone that may be interested.

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