Wednesday, August 03, 2016

A Glimpse at Potential

Yesterday I learned a strategy for keeping dogs from tormenting chickens.  Pigs can drink water from their trough from a nipple. 

There's a hiking project in 4-H, which has influenced a young woman to pursue outdoor education when she begins her studies at the University of Idaho later this month.   

I met a young lady 11-years-old with an ever-present and beautiful smile. Her sewing abilities and passion suggest that she could have a future in fashion.

I also met an aspiring artist and photographer who loves to do leathercraft. She explained to us the steps needed to make a belt with conchos and flames.  

It was fun to share with this young artist that taking leathercraft in Bonner County's 4-H program can lead to a phenomenal career creating leather works of art for Harley Davidson and even for a President. 

That HAS happened, and one of my former students Howard Knight, a former 4-H'er from Careywood, can concur with my claim because he lives the life of a highly successful leathercrafting "master" in Montana.  

His work is magnificent, and a few years back Howard set a record for producing the most expensive cowboy boots ever sold:  $106,000. 

Be sure to check out his fabulous website, which includes the following overview of Howard and his passion

About Howard Knight

A look at the master that creates the works of art in leather . . . “One of a kind, one at a time”
Perfection with an eye to cutting edge design inspired by classical floral styles of centuries past – that is what is at the heart of the works of art in leather that Howard Knight creates.

Regarded as one of the finest leather artists and designers in the country, he began his journey years ago as a young man learning “leather craft” in a 4-H Club.

Honored to have been mentored by master leather carvers Chuck Smith and Ray Pohja, today, Howard’s work is worn and rode by legends around the world and has been featured in numerous books and publications.

Howard is also inspired and thrives on creative collaboration with other artists including the finest silver smiths, photographers and other exceptional leather artists. “Creativity and design is not finite, it’s ever evolving. I continue to be driven to create ‘over-the-top’ designs.”

Each piece, whether it’s a belt or an entire motorcycle, each one is done by hand by Howard. He imagines then renders the art then puts his magical hands to work turning his vision into reality. A reality to wear and a reality to ride.

As for Howard the regular guy… he’s passionate about fly fishing. When he’s not creating in his studio, he’s likely waste-deep in one of the beautiful rivers near his home in Montana, not only catching fish but also being inspired by the natural rhythms and elegance of water that surrounds him. If he’s out there, he may be out on his Harley – he finds that a bit inspiring as well…

Okay, so I think that's a pretty apt example of a local 4-H'er turned leathercraft superstar. 

Now, back to the potential of Bonner County kids currently enrolled in 4-H and telling us about this year's efforts during yesterday's 4-H interview competition at the fairgrounds. 

If, by chance, you want your dog to quit harassing your sibling's chickens, get a spray bottle and plan out the stages of just how you'll go about suppressing your best friend's desire to cause trouble in the coop. Then get started, and stick with your plan. 

A young man who came to the interview session expressed pride in the fact that he had accomplished this goal this year with his golden retriever named Scotty.  

My interviewing judge partner Diane and I read a story about this achievement in his record book, and while doing so, both of us put him on alert----he also has talent as a writer.  

His personal style of story telling about encouraging Scotty to leave those chickens be had both of us in stitches.  

I'm not sure if he believed me when I told him he definitely has a way with words; in fact, he says he struggles with English.  

Well, the final product of his using the language had a profound effect on Diane and me. So, we're both hoping that he will pursue some writing experiences along with his dog training. 

During our interview session yesterday, lots of good memories from our formative years came back, and we shared a few with the kids.  

Diane was involved in Junior Achievement, simulating the life of a bank officer, where she grew up in California, while I was involved in 4-H smack dab in the neighborhood around where the fairgrounds is located. 

One 4-H'er, who's taking swine for the sixth year, aspires to be a veterinarian. He told us how receiving a red ribbon in fitting and showing two years ago made him sit up and take notice, roll up his sleeves, work harder and come back the next year to earn grand champion showman. 

That triggered my "failure" story of the day in my first year of 4-H when Mrs. Hudon, who lived across the road from the fairgrounds, refused to sign my incomplete record book. Mother was mad.  

I was disappointed to the point of humiliation, but Mrs. Hudon's decision turned out to be the best thing that ever happened to me at the best time in my life. 

This "total failure" at 10 rolled her sleeves up, and, at age 11, took two years of 4-H in one year, catching up with her contemporaries.  The hard lesson learned and its consequences set me in motion for the rest of my life. 

We hate to fail; in fact, it makes us downright sick to our stomachs and inspired to go hide for a while.  

But failure can make us better, and it's great when kids learn that possibility and then react to it favorably at an early age. 

While thumbing through the phenomenal 11-year-old seamstress's record book, showing her smiling while working at her sewing machine, I pointed to Eleanor Delamarter's patience with me at the sewing machine. 

I seldom smiled while sewing.  

Back in the late '50s, Eleanor lived just over the hill from where we happened to be sitting for interviews in the fairgrounds food booth. 

I told our interviewee about the tremendous patience and positive nature Eleanor displayed through hours on end of my sitting in her bedroom at her Singer, sewing imperfect seams and redoing them, not one, not two but often as many as three times. 


Yep, that was a sign that hung in our publications room, and through 4-H, I learned that lesson many times over. 

Diane and I saw a lot of exciting potential yesterday as we sat through nearly five hours of interviews with 4-H'ers ranging from 8 years old to 18.  

Speaking of the 8-year-old, he's taking a sheep for his first year of 4-H. 

I was surprised since he comes from a large family of cattle lovers and owners. 

"Why sheep?" I asked.

To which he told me that he sees cows all the time and that he wanted to learn about a different animal.  Pretty profound for an 8-year-old, I'd say. 

I also loved his story, telling about walking his sheep over to see his grandmother.  She wasn't home, so he walked on to show his sheep to his great-grandmother.

"She wasn't home either," he told me with a smile and clearly an attitude that it was okay. 

Twas a great afternoon of judging, filled with inspiration----not so much for the 4-H'ers but probably more so for Diane and me.

After visiting with these kids, it's easy to see that we have another crops of bright stars about to shine in the future. 

Good job, 4-H'ers and leaders! 

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