Conner’s Story: A True Story of the Importance of Safety in 4-H

Posted: November 16, 2012 in Monday Morning Message, Youth Development
The story you are about to read is a true account of a current 4-H member.  This month as we reflect on safety in our 4-H programs I hope that this serves as a powerful reminder of the importance safety places in helping our 4-H youth thrive.  Here’s Conner’s story.
I almost wasn’t a 4-H member…… but then something happened that changed my mind. My mom told my story to my project leader, who told my club leader, who told someone at a Leader’s conference, who then asked me to tell this story–it’s kind of like that eating a fly song.

I wanted to join 4-H because I’m VERY interested in robotics, but it’s hard to find other kids who like it too. I know I joined later than most other kids, but it seemed like a good idea when I heard about this 4H robotics project in my town. The problem started when I went to my first club meeting and I was obviously the “new” kid. Everyone seemed to know everyone else and they we’re talking about things I didn’t understand–it was like a foreign language! No one talked to me, or tried to help me know what was going on. Then we had to play this game where we made a knot with our hands and had to untangle ourselves. That really freaked me out, ’cause no one knew my name and I didn’t know theirs, so it was really uncomfortable to be that close to people I didn’t know.

So anyway, I was still going to try the Robot Project meeting even though I wasn’t so sure about this 4-H thing after that first meeting!

I go to my first robot meeting and the same thing happened! Foreign language, I didn’t know anyone, but at least the project leader introduced me. During that meeting, everyone was supposed to bring batteries to do the activity that day and one of the girls forgot hers so they made her sing a song to get some from the leader. That freaked me out too–I’d be so embarrassed if I had to do that just because I forgot!

So, I pretty much decided this 4-H thing was not for me. At the time I didn’t know that I was feeling “unsafe” but now I know. Here’s what happened next…

I also signed up for the Leadership Project because that sounded like a good idea. I didn’t want to go to that Project meeting, but my parents wanted me to at least give it another try, so I said okay, but this was the last meeting. When I got to the meeting, the first thing we did was play a game so that we all knew each other’s name and something about each other, so that was cool. Then we talked about how we wanted to be together as a group, we called it our rights and responsibilities to each other. And then we did some activities that were about being safe physically and emotionally with each other. I didn’t know what to expect at this meeting, but I have to say that just because we talked about safety, it made me feel a lot more comfortable…and it’s really why I’m still a member now. I think there are lots of kids like me who need to feel safe before they join something and I wish all of my 4H and school felt safe. I think this is something to work on.

The leadership project also has helped me know that I have a spark for knowing how things work, which is what I really like about building robots. Even though I have that spark, I look forward to my leadership project meetings the most and I’m really glad my parents made me go to that third meeting.


Things to Consider:

  1. Conner shared several things from his first 4-H experience that made him feel unsafe, how could we ensure that those walking in to 4-H feel welcomed and valued?
  2. As you reflect on your own experience in 4-H, what could your group do to increase safety within it?
  3. How can you partner with your 4-H members to make this a reality in your program?

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s