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Our Illinois 4-H Story

What I learned with the 'Big M'

As I reflect on my years of being a 4-H member, most of my time was spent in the Shooting Sports program at my SPIN Club. When I first started shooting, I was seven years old, out at a local gun camp. The first gun I ever owned was a pink Crickett rifle. As I grew and entered 4-H, my father took me over the SPIN Club for McLean County.  Every Tuesday night, the other members and I practiced and trained to shoot air rifles and learn important 4-H skills as well as shooting sports safety.

My father taught an important lesson to all the club members, including myself. The "Big M."  

The B stands for Belonging. Everyone who was a part of our club belonged and was welcomed. This was a happy and safe environment. 

The I stood for Independence. Being able to take care of our equipment and ourselves.  

The G was for Generosity. Being kind to one another, helping each other, and praising one another.

M stood for Mastery. Through mastering skills, we learned to complete goals such as shooting a perfect 100 target. These skills helped me not only in Shooting Sports, but in life outside of 4-H as well.

As I will be graduating high school in May and starting my college career, I know all the skills of shooting sports and 4-H will follow me and help me grow more as an adult.  4-H teaches us to "make the best better," along with leadership skills and teamwork. I believe I have mastered these skills myself. I have been given many opportunities in 4-H, such as being a club member, club president, and now an Illinois 4-H Shooting Sports Ambassador. Now I get to represent the Shooting Sports Program and give my experiences to other 4-H members who haven't gotten to experience what I have. 

The Shooting Sports Program taught me many things. Without this program, I wouldn't be able to represent my state and program to others and become a better leader for tomorrow.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Shandre Willoughby is a 4-H Shooting Sports Ambassador from McLean County