Guiding Principle #12
We value individual ownership and commitment to the success of the IFYE program.
That IFYE experiences change our lives, and the lives of others, is an understatement! It is like throwing a rock into a pond and watching the ripples go on and on. Or like the baskets I brought back from Botswana and surrounding areas oh so long ago - - woven tightly and in our cases woven deeply into our lives, changing our lives and perspectives and in some cases, the lives of others and the spirit of giving back.
Commitment to IFYE Talks
My IFYE/YDP exchange in Botswana from Ohio happened 50 years ago. Fifty! Almost a lifetime, although it feels like yesterday. At the time, our commitment upon return to Ohio was to go out to various organizations and give “IFYE Talks” - 50, as I recall. Seemed like so many but when enthusiasm for the experience bubbles over, people feel that excitement and like it and the word got out that I was on the speaking circuit. Fifty talks went to 150 before I gave my last talk. I recall the talks generating contributions and support. Those talks gave me the confidence to never be afraid of speaking in front of a big crowd ever again.
Spreading the Word – Changing Lives
I went straight from my IFYE/YDP Exchange back to Ohio, and was among the first eight females hired as 4-H Agents in Ohio. I was assigned to Butler County in Southwest Ohio. I gave IFYE talks over the course of my almost 5 years there and was happy to have influenced one amazing 4-Her, Debbie Niederman, to apply. She did apply, was accepted, and it changed her life too. She even married an IFYE and we remain good friends. Ownership and commitment at that time meant spreading the good word and recruiting good prospective candidates and participating in Ohio IFYE programs.
IFYE Was Never Far Away
Regardless, for me, IFYE was never far away. Going back to the life-changing experience, it remains and continues to be tightly woven into my being - The way I perceive things, the lens through which I view the world and Africa, my feelings about consumerism (I still hate shopping), my knowledge about developing countries, the value of exchanges – I could go on and on listing my appreciation of my IFYE exchange.
Life Moves On
Like many people though, life moved on - graduate school out of state, marriage, an instant family with a stepson, a move to Tennessee, a new job, and another son followed. We had a very busy life! Also came the realization that Tennessee’s 4-H structure was very different from Ohio’s and IFYE was just another acronym that people “might have heard of somewhere.” That was surprising.
Though I still followed the national IFYE program, I was not as involved as others whose individual commitment led them to enormous contributions in time and talent to the success of the IFYE program. For them, I am grateful. Those individuals who have served on the Board and in other capacities and shared so much time and talent personify individual ownership and commitment to the success of IFYE.
Individual Ownership and Commitment
For each of us, individual ownership and commitment mean different things. To me, it meant when I was called to help, I said “yes” even after so many years. We develop specific skillsets in our professions over a period of time. For me, it was facilitating strategic planning. So, when I was asked to facilitate planning for the IFYE Board of Directors in 2020, I was eager to help an organization that had given so much to me. I wanted to give back. “YES” was an easy response because of my individual ownership and personal commitment to the success of IFYE which has been so deeply woven into my being. Thus, the Board developed their guiding principles which define what IFYE is, and which are featured on this web page. I am proud to have helped in a small way.
For most IFYEs, when called, we will answer in the best way we can:
giving time, talent, and/or treasure regardless of the time that has passed since our exchange.
This "giving back" is clearly a value of individual ownership and a life-long commitment to the success of IFYE,
a value and a principle on which IFYEs stand.
Pat Eisenmann Donahue
Youth Development Project (YDP)
Ohio to Botswana 1971/1972