Sheila Rush has been involved in 4-H for 46 years this year. She joined the Mt. Hermon 4-H Club in 1973. She says, “doing so had a huge impact on the person I am today. It taught me how to conduct a business meeting, to speak in front of a crowd, to step outside of my comfort zone and to measure my success by my efforts not the success of those around me. Saying the pledge over and over convinced me I could make my club, my community, my country and my world a better place. I’m still trying to do that all these years later.”
As a member, Rush’s favorite activities were club meetings. “We had so much fun. And of course, representing Monroe County at area, state and national meetings was wonderful for me. I learned to sew completing my 4-H sewing projects. Back then each county held a “Fashion Revue” and selected someone to represent them during the state Fashion Revue at Teen Conference. I think I was a sophomore the year I earned that honor. UK had professional models there to talk to us about our makeup and how to carry ourselves and turn. Imagine me on a runway in the middle of Rupp Arena! 4-H gave me those kinds of experiences.”
4-H provides so many opportunities for social, educational and cultural experiences. That is what inspires Rush to be a 4-H volunteer. She is currently the leader of the 4-H Lego Club. She states that, experiences in 4-H help to develop self-discipline and civic awareness for youth. Rush further says, “I learned from the most wonderful 4-H leaders in the world that if I wanted my children and now my grandchildren to have the experiences and opportunities that I had, I had to be willing to invest of myself. So, I did. But the thing is, I get back so much more than I give. It’s wonderful when your child runs up to you with a ribbon and says, “Look at what I got.” But when a child you wouldn’t have ever known comes up to you and says the same thing, it’s beyond wonderful.”
Sheila says that one of her most rewarding experiences as a member is that she is very proud of the success of StateLine Community 4-H Club. The StateLine Community Club is the club Sheila and her sister, Ina Graves, began for their children (StateLine is currently led by Kim Hollinsworth). “We had great kids and great parents and together we did great things. I also take great pride in watching Kala and Kellie, two of those 4-Hers, rise to the challenge of being 4-H leaders and serving on the county council. I’m so proud of them.”
Sheila says to other parents considering 4-H club membership, “The children of today will be taking care of us when we’re old. They will be running our community; managing our public lands, developing our local amenities, running the senior citizen center and maybe even providing our care when we are residents in a nursing home. The more we invest in them today, the better they will be able to fill those roles. I believe in the power of youth and the ability of 4-H to turn that power loose. So many people direct their children toward athletics, and that’s fine in its place. But only so many children can dress out for a basketball or football game. In 4-H there is no limit to the number of participants or ways they can excel.”
In closing Sheila simply says, “4-H ROCKS!”
For more information about the 4-H clubs in Monroe County or to volunteer for 4-H, contact Susan at the Monroe County Extension Office at 270-487-5504 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.