No, this is not a plea to send money to the Bastian Farm. Quite the opposite, in fact. I was thinking on Friday as I was watching a former 4-H Beef kid of Mike’s, just how much an investment of a few hours in a young person’s life pays off. I watched as 3 men worked together at fitting a bull and marveled at how far all of them have come. I had a flashback to a show in Holden, MO a few (ok, maybe more than a few) years ago. Those same three, along with Jesse, were working on heifers that day and two of the men were boys. Ryan must have been about 15, Chris 13 and Jesse 11. We were going to a weekend of shows and Ryan wanted to take his heifer along. Not only have their skills in fitting and showing advanced a great deal, as people, they have developed into some quality men. I wonder how many young people are missing out on having someone invest just a little bit into their lives.
I recently listened to a book on tape by Michael Ohr of “The Blind Side” fame. His book was “I Beat the Odds”. He talks about the fact that it wasn’t common for people in his neighborhood to invest in anyone other than themselves. He thanked many who did invest in him. I have a cousin who has had 2 foreign exchange students on whom her family has had a tremendous impact. Mike and I have volunteer though 4-H and FFA. We have some friends who invest in the youth in our church by teaching that Sunday school class every week. Foster parents, ball team coaches, teachers, tutors, pastors, the list goes on and on. I do believe that the idea of investing in others is a small town, rural idea and I get how it could be much harder in a bigger city but I also have a friend who is participating in a program that advocates for foster kids in a small city. Don’t let your location keep you from pouring into another generation. I think a lot of the problems our kids face as they grow up are a result of not having someone in their corner, fighting with them and for them.
I’m not a proponent of “every kid deserves a trophy” mentality. I don’t think any of us should be rewarded for just showing up. I think we need to set high, but realistic expectations for those we’re mentoring and then help them to achieve those goals. Invest some time into them. Rarely does the money put into a project yield more than the time invested.
I know right now a lot of 4-H clubs are recruiting project leaders. FFA chapters are getting teams together for contest season come spring. YMCA’s are looking for coaches. Churches are looking for nursery workers and teachers. CASA (Court Appointed Support Advocates) are looking for volunteers. Teachers are seeing which kids need some extra help. Step up. Everyone has some gift or talent that is worth sharing. Mike didn’t think when he first volunteered as the beef leader for my nephew 20 years ago that he would ever see benefits like he has. I doubt he ever thought he’d be fitting with one of “his 4-H kids” at a national show or that he would see his boys investing in younger kids so soon in their adult lives. We know the advantages and they do too. Pass it on. Invest in someone today.