It was a typical Saturday chore day back on the farm; doing those extra things that never get done during the week. The only thing different about this Saturday was the urgency to get it all done early enough to attend an afternoon county 4-H activities meeting.

It was obvious that my Dad was more engaged than usual, and finally, he just couldn’t hold back any longer – he just blurted out, “I’m not supposed to tell you this, but you’re going to get a big reward this afternoon.” He didn’t tell me what it was, but it was pretty obvious that this was his cue for telling me to kick it into high gear and be prepared to be at my best.

This meant dressing a little nicer, being on time, and on my best behavior. There is this ol’ folklore about dads living their lives vicariously through their son. This was the epiphany of this too familiar scenario. Just as Dad was always front and center in his involvement in all of my 4-H projects, this occasion was the “icing on the cake”. He just couldn’t contain himself in the exuberance of the moment.

When the county extension agent (Johnson) presented me with the Alpha Gamma Rho state achievement award it was like the most special thing that had ever happened in my life. A gold, personalized watch to be held in perpetuity was second only to that of my parents’ sense of pride.

Though there are times when working on the farm that ones’ finest jewelry shouldn’t be worn, it was such a statement of achievement that I just couldn’t take it off. But much to the chagrin of my mother, I accidentally lost it while moving machinery from one field to another. It slipped off my arm, in the most precarious of situations, and later retrieved in that of an unbelievable fluke.

It  was my  mother’s relentless determination of faith that found her following an old county road grader down the road that she had been searching with a “fine tooth comb”.

In her mind it was a lost cause, except that she and God had a working relationship like none other.

The sun was shining brighter and higher than I had ever seen it, and sure enough there was this bright glistening reflection; almost blinding as she went for the light – it was the watch!

There was nothing that could up-stage this experience – except, maybe the following year when I was now enrolled in college. The announcement wasn’t so dramatic, but, none the less still exciting. It was a more formal a notice, and I again had been selected for the “State Achievement Award.” This time it was a trip to 4-H Congress in Chicago; leadership involvement that more clearly defined my purpose and direction in life.

Thanks to 4-H I’ve never wavered from those values of HEAD-HEART-HANDS that have impacted my life.

"PONY TALES by" Ponty is written by Ken E. Knight, the author of the “Knightro Report”, a nationally syndicated livestock-marketing column, which is featured in the "Farm And Livestock Directory" every month.