By Allison Wakefield, agricultural communications and journalism junior
When asked about my job at the Rock Springs 4-H Center, this Marc Anthony quote immediately comes to mind: “If you do what you love, you’ll never work a day in your life.” This summer, I was a member of the horse barn staff. I had been to Rock Springs as both a 4-H camper and counselor, but my experiences as a child and young adult were nothing compared to what I did this summer.
In June, more than 2,200 4-H’ers from all over Kansas visited the horse barn and got the chance learn about and ride horses. Rock Springs also hosted family reunions, company conferences, camps for hearing-impaired youth, and even a 4-H exchange group from Japan.
As an agricultural communications and journalism major, I was excited to improve my communications skills and learn how to teach and interact with a wide variety of audiences and quickly adapt to their learning abilities. I was challenged to give instructions to groups of people who didn’t speak English or could not hear me. It was extremely challenging, but also rewarding. Seeing a smile on a child’s face while riding a horse and knowing that I was part of a lifelong memory was inspiring.
My co-workers, both equine and human, were fun to work with. We endured a few long, hot days, but we stayed positive and happy. It was clear that I was working with people who loved the work as much as I did.
My favorite thing about this summer was being able to use my photography skills on the trails. I took photographs of numerous trails that other barn staff members and I had cleared for future trail riders. I am so glad I had the chance to capture friends and fun through a lens and help the 4-H center at the same time.
Helping many kids ride their first horse, watching them overcome their fears, learn about horses, and begin to love them affected me greatly. At the end of the summer, I realized that I may have left a small mark on Rock Springs, but Rock Springs left an even bigger mark on me, and I’ll never forget it.
Allison, a junior from Mound City, Kansas, is serving as the Ag Council Representative for the 2018-2019 K-State Agricultural Communicators of Tomorrow (ACT) chapter.