Preparing For The Race

by Tammera Dean Beckham

While watching portions of the recent televised Winter Olympics, my mind wandered to this…my next News & Views article. “Preparing for the Race” for such athletes is an everyday occurrence. Should it not be the same for those of us who have the lives of people in our hands? We must everyday prepare to make a difference in the lives of those whom we are in contact with…be it youth or adults…members or volunteers or donors; or administrators or elected officials or our own peers and most importantly, our family. We must continuously tell our story.

And, while telling that story…perhaps we can borrow a line form the Silver Medallist in Ice Skating, Michele Kwan, “I didn’t lose the Gold, I won the Silver.” What a positive attitude!!! Even if we reach for the stars and fall a little short…we’ve definitely accomplished a goal and for that we must be thankful and celebrate that success!!!

Athletes are concerned with these three things when preparing for any race…First, Proper Equipment: Second, Exercising or Training; and Third, having enough Energy or Stamina to complete that race. We, as youth development professionals should be concerned about the same things in our daily “race.”

Do we have the proper equipment to handle the job? Can we even identify our needs of “modern equipment”? How many of us have computer access directly on our desks? How many of us have direct line access to the Internet? What type of professional improvement training have we attended this past year? The past six months?

Do we truly “exercise”-not just our physical bodies but our mental, emotional & spiritual selves? And, do we ever get enough sleep/rest to be able to have the necessary energy or stamina…to finish the race? What about proper nutrition? Have we had a recent medical, dental, & eye check-up? How healthy are we?

Energy/Stamina to prepare us for our daily “race” should be of ultimate concern. Are we professional role models for those we work with? Or, are we always “exhausted”? Do people who see & work with us think “Gee, I’d really love to have their job!” OR do they think “Oh, goodness, those people always look like they are worked to death!”

My main goals this year as your President are to:

1.) Refocus the Associations’ energies to better communicate with our “internal” system partners, (i.e. Federal & State levels) on issues addressing the youth development profession,

2.) Expand leadership opportunities for all members within NAE4-HA, and

3.) Valuing the personal and professional contributions of our members so our Association benefits as well as each of us!