When I walked up to him and approached the area where the school garden would be, I got a great sense of anxiety when I looked at the large jungle like area in front of me. There was Mr. Phillip with 11 JHS students standing in front of the same jungle of a garden plot with cutlasses and pick ax in hand. He lightly barked at them and said well get to work. I came with my own cutlass and I jumped right in. There was a shocked look on his face when I did this. He asked what I was doing and I smiled at him and said, “I am leading by example.” Next thing I knew he too had a cutlass in hand and started showing kids how to clear the field.We didn’t do it for them, but we were merely trying to set a good example.
See, today was the day where I agreed, along with KITA 4-H members, to help Apromase JHS clear the field where they were going to start their 4-H garden. Across the football field I noticed KITA’s 4-H President, Christopher, with some tools in his hand walking swiftly towards the garden area. As we walked up he said hello and Introductions were made and he jumped right in to help the students. Next thing another one of the students from KITA showed up and then another and then another. A grand total of 5 students came to help with the garden. The idea of KITA students coming to help wasn’t just to help prepare for a garden, but it was also to look over the area to see what contributions the KITA students could make to help improve their 4-H program. I was impressed with the way that they collaborated together not just with each other and not just with Mr. Phillip, but with the JHS 4-H members as well. They utilized their practical knowledge as well as new and upcoming technologies and sustainable practices that they have learned to suggest ideas for the school. This was all happening in between them physically working with the students showing them the best ways to hold tools and clear brush.
As we were finishing up Christopher made a suggestion that made me proud. “Mista Nick,” he said “teaching farming is important but we should do more then just work, maybe next time we can play some of those games about team work and such that we play at our meetings”.
All this time I thought when I would do leadership activities with the KITA 4-H students, I was just wasting my time. In reality it made an impact because now they want to do these activities with the JHS students. Next thing I know the field was clear and the look on everyone’s face had a shimmer of accomplishment. As I walked back home I thought to myself, who would of thought, leading by example.
Nick Traini is an Agriculture Science graduate from California Polytechnic State University. Before becoming an AgriCorps Member, Nick taught high school agricultural mechanics and served as a FFA advisor.