My first bank deposit was winnings from county fair entries in the 1960s. I was a kid who accumulated many more pink ribbons than blue, but that never - for long - dulled my enthusiasm to keep trying.
As I recall, even a plate of pathetic brownies was worth a quarter in prize money back then.
Spring Valley 4-H Club leaders get credit for the gentle, ongoing nudge that encouraged farm kids to keep trying new things. For me, introductions to veterinary science and nature appreciation would yield more personal satisfaction than sewing or baking in those days.
Now 4-H clubs are celebrating the organization's 100th year, and a lot has happened since seven kids met in Walworth County for the state's first 4-H club meeting in October 1914. Besides the 35,000 adolescents in clubs statewide, around 68,000 participate through school, camp, mentoring or other programs.
"Research shows that youth involved in 4-H get better grades, are more prepared for school and are more involved when they're there," the University of Wisconsin-Extension reports online. These 4-H members also are twice as likely to plan for college.
The range of today's 4-H projects is mind-boggling - bicycle mechanics to robotics - but elements of farm work remain a strong core. That includes raising beef to swine and planting corn to wheat.
The arrival of June Dairy Month seems like an appropriate time to recognize the 4-H centennial and the club members' longtime pledge, which is relevant to any age and walk of life:
"I pledge my head to clearer thinking,
"My heart to greater loyalty,
"My hands to larger service,
"And my health to better living for my club, my community, my country and my world."
Rural 4-H clubs often are involved with June Dairy Month breakfasts throughout Wisconsin. The Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board provides details for these events at dairydaysofsummer.com.
The best are Breakfast on the Farm meals with tours and other introductions to contemporary farm life.
Here are other ways to take note of June Dairy Month:
? At the Wisconsin Historical Museum until Aug. 30 is "Wisconsin in Watercolor: The Farmscapes of Paul Seifert," a nationally recognized folk artist whose 17 paintings depict the Driftless Area, where he lived and worked in the late 1800s and early 1900s.
The artist was a German immigrant, taxidermist and produce farmer whose artistic style has been compared to Grandma Moses. Folk art scholars did not discover Seifert's work until almost 30 years after he died. The addition of touchscreens makes this an interactive museum exhibit, explaining the stories behind the paintings. wisconsinhistory.org, 608-264-6555
? In Little Chute, the Great Wisconsin Cheese Festival is June 6 to 8 in Doyle Park, 100 Van Buren St. Expect a cheese-curd eating contest, cheese-carving demo and cheesecake baking contest. littlechutewi.org
? June 13 is the deadline to register for the June 21 "Taste Traditions: 'Creating Dairyland' Farm Breakfast" at the Wisconsin Historical Museum, 30 N. Carroll St., Madison. Ed Janus, author of "Creating Dairyland" (Wisconsin Historical Society Press, $27) talks about how dairying shapes the state's identity and helps it thrive. wisconsinhistory.org, 608-264-6555
? LaClare Farms, W2994 Highway HH, Pipe, presents a June 19 dinner that showcases farmstead cheeses. Other events pair cheeses with beer or wine on June 14, 21 and 28. On the farm is a retail shop and café that serves lunch and dinner. Goat milking and cheese making can be viewed from observation windows. laclarefarms.com, 920-670-0051
? Photos from Renard's Cheese, Sturgeon Bay, are part of the new coffeetable book "For Love and Money: Portraits of Wisconsin Family Businesses" by Carl Corey (Wisconsin Historical society Press, $30).
? The photographer talks about his work at 7 p.m. June 19 at McMillan Memorial Library, 490 E. Grand Ave., Wisconsin Rapids, and at noon June 20 at Marathon County Historical Society, 410 Mcindoe St., Wausau (prolific farm stories author Jerry Apps talks at 10 a.m.). mcmillanlibrary.org, 715-422-5136; marathoncountyhistory.com, 715-842-5750
? "Carl Corey: For Love and Money" - an exhibit of photos from the book - is up until July 27 at the Museum of Wisconsin Art, 205 Veterans Ave., West Bend. wisconsinart.org, 262-334-9638
? Old-time production of cheese, butter and ice cream are part of 1860s Dairy Day at the Wade House, W7965 Highway 23, Greenbush, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. June 28. Cost is $11 ($5.50 for students and senior citizens). wadehouse.wisconsinhistory.org, 920-526-3271