Friday night was the most perfect weather we could experience on a summer evening in North Iowa! I found myself enjoying the mild temperatures, the lack of gale-force winds and taking in the sights and sounds around me at the Franklin County Fair.
If you’ve ever been to a fair, you know there are plenty of sights and sounds! My husband and I were seated in lawn chairs, waiting for the John Michael Montgomery concert to begin. The woman next to John begins to tell him how disappointed she is in Generation Z (a.k.a. the iGeneration), or children who were born after the year 1995.
I listened to her raise concerns about our future, and my first thought is, “I believe our future is in great hands.” Why? Just take a look around the county fair and you’ll find one example after another of talented kids who want to make a difference in their communities, their county and their world. Take a walk through the 4-H Exhibits Building and see how kids are being good citizens by building gardens and planting trees in their communities or visiting the elderly. Take a close look at the wooden projects they’ve built or restored, such as patio furniture and dressers.
I had a proud mom moment because my son built a basketball ball holder that got considered for state fair. (If you knew how many balls I’ve had stuck under my vehicle in the garage, you’d understand why I am excited!) His project earned a purple ribbon. Although it won’t move on to the next round of judging at the Iowa State Fair, he can take home a sense of accomplishment. He figured out the design and built something that will be useful. He gained skills that he can use throughout his life.
My son is part of the maker generation, according to Forbes. Generation Z must architect and build the future we are all trying to imagine living in. Teens and tweens of today are primed to be the influencers of tomorrow, according to a New York Times article.
Just when I wonder if I’ve done enough to positively influence my children, my daughter impresses me with her determination and persistence. She was shy and lacked self confidence when she joined 4-H in 4th grade. During the past five years, she’s learned how to handle a 1,000-pound animal with confidence. She went from earning a white ribbon at last year’s horse show because she couldn’t get her horse to lope properly to winning a trophy for Champion English Pleasure this year.
My daughter also placed second in Halter, Western Pleasure and Walk-Trot classes at the 2016 Franklin County Fair, and she graciously congratulated the 4-H member who took home the trophy in these three classes. That’s another proud mom moment for me because I know sportsmanship breeds success.
On our drive home from the fair last Wednesday, my daughter said she couldn’t wait to get back in the practice arena. Why? Because she’s looking forward to showing her horse next month at the Iowa State Fair, and she has her eye on earning a purple ribbon. It’s all about self-improvement, and I’m proud of the initiative she’s taking. Even if she doesn’t take home a purple ribbon, she can feel good about giving it her all. And trying her best is all I can really ask of her.
I’m hopeful that the lessons my kids have learned from doing chores and pulling weeds from rows of pumpkin plants will teach them important values. I know kids learn from taking responsibility. I want them to learn the value of hard work and learn how to work with others. And even though breaking goats to lead and turning straight pieces of lumber into something usable is a lot of work, I hope they’re developing some great memories along the way!
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