By ALEXANDER WILLIS
Republican U.S. Senate nominee Marsha Blackburn stopped by the Williamson County Fair on Wednesday, visiting the 4-H & Youth Village – a section of the fair put on by an organization that Blackburn has quite the history with.
“I was in 4-H in elementary, middle and high school, and loved it,” Rep. Blackburn said. “I grew up in what you would call a 4-H club farm bureau family.”
4-H stands for “head, heart, hands and health,” and is a global network of youth organizations aimed at advancing youth development through educational programs and classes.
The Williamson County Fair dedicated an entire arena to 4-H activities, which included woodworking, education classes and a robotics challenge, which saw participants, among them being Blackburn, build and program their very own robot.
The 4-H organization began in 1902, with the goal being to connect public school education and rural life.
“What I found was that 4-H really opened a lot of doors,” Blackburn said. “When you’re a child, you don’t realize it, but you come to appreciate that it really is something that changes your worldview, because it does expose you to opportunities, that otherwise, you would not have had.”
Blackburn won multiple contests with 4-H through her youth, as well as a national 4-H scholarship, which she says helped helped her pay for her education.
“I have a great appreciation for this program, and it’s one of the reasons that I’ve been so involved in agriculture issues,” Blackburn said. “I’ve lived it. It’s important to me that we keep these programs available to children, and it’s important to me that we keep our [agricultural] economy strong in this state.”
The Williamson County Fair has already set record attendance for this year, with more than 200,000 visitors. Blackburn, who’s been a regular at the fair for years, said she believes it’s important to support the fair, and to support the success its had.
Blackburn said she was particularly impressed with one young 4-H member who told her that he was already thinking about how he would pay for his higher education – using cattle.
“He’s thinking about this as a way to not only to start a business, but to pay for his schooling when he finishes high school,” Blackburn said. “I thought, this is so insightful – here is a 13-year-old child, and they’re talking to me about the profit margin from the difference between a steer and a goat, and he’s 13 years-old. I think that’s fantastic.”
The Williamson County Fair has been an annual event since 2005, and will be open until Saturday, August 11.