Jack's Insights September 2017

By Jack Whittier, Director, UNL Panhandle Extension District and Panhandle Research and Extension Center

How did you fare this summer?  Or, is a better question: How did you fair this summer?  Now, I’m certainly not a linguistics expert, but these two homonyms, “fare” and “fair,” have been on my mind recently. As a refresher from what your junior high English teacher tried to teach you – mine was Ms. Egbert in the 7th grade – homonyms are words that have the same pronunciation but different meanings, origins or spellings. 

Dr. Jack Whittier

These words came to my mind as Robynn and I entered one of the ticket booths at the Nebraska State Fair. Due to my role with the University of Nebraska, I was issued a pass to the State Fair, so we approached one of the entrances assuming that we would simply pay the “Fair fare” for Robynn at the gate: I would show my pass, and we would both be able to enter and enjoy the Fair. Turns out the gate we chose did not sell tickets, they only scanned complimentary passes, so we were directed to another entrance where we paid her fare and were off to enjoy the Fair.  It was great, by the way!

Reflecting back on our State Fair experience last weekend, I also recalled attending several of the county fairs in the Panhandle District earlier this summer. As I walked through the livestock and 4-H buildings at the county fairs, I reflected on another meaning for the word “fare.” One dictionary points out that when it is used as a verb in a sentence (Wow, I really am sounding like a Junior High English teacher, aren’t I?), fare can mean “to have an experience, or to go through something.” Given this meaning, it was obvious that the exhibitors at the Fairs were certainly having an experience and going through something special, not only during the Fair, but with all the preparation and work leading up to the Fairs.

I often hear people, whether in agriculture or other careers, mention their experience as a 4-H or FFA member during their youth. They may say that their experience helped them gain confidence, improved their public speaking, or helped them understand the process, value and importance of good record keeping. While I don’t claim to be perfect at these attributes, I can honestly say that as I look back on my 4-H and FFA days, my experiences were an important part of the opportunities and privileges I have been fortunate to be involved with in my life.

4-H programs today still contain the elements mentioned above, like livestock, sewing, cooking and similar projects. Additionally, 4-H has expanded to encompass many more programs for youth development, such as participation in camps, clubs, school enrichment, and after-school programs. To quote from the Nebraska Extension 4-H webpage, “All 4-H programs are consistent in placing strong emphasis on life skills, such as problem solving, responsibility, citizenship, and leadership.” The 4-H slogan to “Learn by Doing” and the 4-H motto to “Make the Best Better,” always have been and continue to be valuable principles taught in 4-H. If you are not currently involved in some facet of 4-H, check it out. I think you will be glad you did.

Now as a final insight to this month’s article, I will mention another experience I had as one of my Fair fares this summer. I was at the Deuel County Fair in Chappell in early August, walking through the exhibit building when I started a conversation with a very nice woman who was selling cookbooks.  These were not just any cookbooks; they were, and I quote from the cover of the cookbook, “A New Combined Berea Cookbook in celebration of the 500th Anniversary of the Reformation, the 150th Birthday of Nebraska, and the 130th Anniversary of the establishment of the Berea Evangelical Lutheran Church.”  The cookbook is “A Collection of Recipes by Berea Lutheran Church, Highway 27, Chappell, Nebraska.”  I was pleased to pay the $20 fare to own one of these cookbooks. I was secretly hoping Robynn and I might find some special recipes inside, and we have.

One recipe particularly caught my attention as I was thumbing through the cookbook recently. You might enjoy it too. Certainly, it will make our lives better to closely follow the recipe below from an anonymous contributor to the cookbook.

Life’s Recipe

1 c. of good thoughts                            2 c. of sacrifice for others

1 c. of kind deeds                                 3 c. of forgiveness

1 c. of consideration for others  2 c. of well beaten faults

Mix these thoroughly and add tears of joy, sorrow, sympathy for others. Fold in 4 cups of prayer and faith to lighten the other ingredients and raise texture to great height of Christian living. After pouring all this into your daily life, bake well with heat of human kindness. Serve with a smile.

Now, who can go wrong following that life recipe! Finally, I ask once more: “How did you fare this summer?  Or, “How did you fair this summer?” Both of mine have been quite good, thank you! Enjoy the beginnings of fall weather. See you next month.