What’s In It For Me?
August 4, 2014

The common attitude in this day and age is “what’s in it for me?”  Everyone wants to know what they will personally gain from work, experiences and interactions with others.  Money and recognition motive people to do things that many would avoid if asked to do it for free.  This is a sad reality.  Working with high school students I see that every student, from the most active athlete to the self proclaimed “hobbit”, have small and sometimes none existent section of community service on their resume when they graduate.  As a teacher that alarms me and as a human being that concerns me.

Baking pie with Bryony, an International Four-H Youth Exchange from England.
Baking pie with Bryony, an International Four-H Youth Exchange from England.

As a part of my OC internship I was “required” to do 10 hours of community service.  As I thought of what I could do I realized that many of the things that I do in the summer already fall into this category; I hosted a 4-h exchange for 3 weeks, planted and cared for a school garden, helped a former student weld on his Tuff Truck entry.  I kept no actual record of hours but know that, additionally,  more than 10 were spent helping students prepare for 4-H/FFA county fairs and volunteering at the fair.  I had the privilege of helping in not only two different counties this year but also two different states!  In June, I helped fit goats for the Kit Carson County Fair in Colorado and then spent an afternoon announcing the goat show.  In August, just across the border in Kansas, I was able to help a student clip her show hogs and prepare for the Cheyenne County Fair.  I will spend this coming Wednesday at the fair grounds serving as a superintendent for a handful of projects during check in and judging.

View from the announcers stand at the goat show at the Kit Carson County Fair.
View from the announcers stand at the goat show at the Kit Carson County Fair.

All of my community service this summer centered about youth, agriculture and programs that I was involved with as a child. Growing up I watched my parents and other role models constantly giving their time to help others.  At my home county fair I was taught to help others because older members always made time to help me.  I learned to give joyfully of my time, talents and treasures whenever I could.  I hope to inspire my students and other youth to have a servant’s heart and give without expecting anything in return. After all it isn’t always about what’s in it for me.

One of the garden beds at school.
One of the garden beds at school.