Today, I want to say a big thanks to the team that has helped build our 4-H Tech Club the past 6 years. Sometimes, there are teams that learn to work together so well that they remind us of the ways families should be. I see that with Tech Club. The parts working together are greater than the individuals would be working on their own, and good things happen.
Six years ago, I came up with one of the scariest phrases my own family ever hears, “I have this vision.”
It all happened because I wanted to create some new opportunities for my kids. My son had joined a robotics team and had competed in some local contests. When I learned that 4-H programs in other areas had robotics contests, I wanted to try it locally. Part of my reasoning was that a robotics contest can take from 15 to 40 hours of preparation time. If our county approved a robotics project, then my son’s achievement record, in his robotics project, could note the hours he spent in other robotics competitions.
Other areas had formed 4-H clubs that focused entirely around robotics. I considered organizing one, but thought that didn’t fit what I thought our county needed. One morning, I “saw the light.” Thomas Edison may have developed the light bulb, but he invented a lot more than that. He always worked to find ways to improve technology. We could start a 4-H club that focused its programming around technology and many science areas: computers, electricity, aerospace, robotics, and more.
One problem: I don’t have a science background. All I was was a mom with a vision and a desire to create new opportunities for her children. As I talked to our extension office and 4-H friends about my vision, I knew I would need a lot of help. But I felt in my heart that this was a vocation, a calling, and something I was supposed to do for reasons that would fit into a picture bigger than mine. I also needed to find another club leader in order to charter a new club.
A friend of mine introduced me to Josh, a young web designer. At our first meeting, I shared my vision and told him my science limitations. But I assured him, “If we can find people to help with the science part, I can organize our way out of a paper bag.” He agreed to help and began the process to become a 4-H leader. Once he was approved, we began to organize our club.
The members put their own stamp on the club. I had planned to call it the Technology Club, but when our bylaws were adopted, the members voted to call it the Tech Club instead. Little did I realize at that first meeting the great things that can happen when dedicated people work together. At the second meeting, members asked if they could tear apart computers and put them back together. So that’s what we did at our club’s third meeting.
Six years later, our club has about 25 members per meeting. Some of our parents are or have become 4-H leaders – Dana, Brooksie, and Karen. Sometimes families have been key to the club and have had to move away – they are missed but still made an indelible mark on the club’s spirit, especially Mark and his family. They share their expertise to help improve the club. The kids and the families work hard to make things work well. After surgery two years ago and since my recent heart attack, they stepped up to keep the club going during my illness and recovery.
Four weeks ago, we were offered our largest honor and challenge to date. We were invited to give a presentation at the Indiana 4-H Foundation’s annual meeting in Indianapolis, one of 4 clubs throughout the state chosen to participate in a science showcase. Members of the club will give a computer hardware demonstration, describing how we have done computer tear-down workshops at meetings.
When we were invited, I was still in cardiac rehab and knew the only way this would work was if our team worked together. In those 4 weeks, incredible things happened:
- Members rehearsed and prepared their presentation, which they will repeat to 4 different groups at the meeting.
- My son, the one who originally inspired the robotics project and the club, has worked with the other club officers and shared what he has learned about computer hardware for the presentation.
- Corporate and individual sponsors lined up to sponsor Tech Club to not only cover the trip’s transportation costs but also t-shirts for club members and model rocket purchases for the club for next year.
- Members, parents, and leaders put the club’s needs ahead of their own desires and needs to help. They have shared their talents.
I don’t know how the final presentations will go. I do know that this team of remarkable players – leaders, members, and parents – have worked together in ways I never dreamed possible six years ago. As they rise to the challenges of this opportunity, I know that the Tech Club is bigger than one mother’s dream and will continue beyond my time.
And for that, all I can do is say thanks.