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Maryland 4-H Members Gets Hands Dirty with the First Lady

Working in the dirt is no big deal for 4-H member Josh Tice. However, it’s not every day he gets invited to help First Lady Michelle Obama plant a cherry blossom tree in honor of the 100th anniversary of Japan’s gift to the United States.

Josh, and his mom and dad, Deana and Josiah, were on hand last Tuesday for the event in Washington, DC. Josh was one of six young people selected to participate alongside the First Lady. During the event, Josh was able to meet Mrs. Obama and even give her a hug. Naturally though, his 4-H side shined through as he said his favorite part of the event was scooping up dirt for the actual planting.

First Lady Michelle Obama participates in a centennial tree planting ceremony during the National Cherry Blossom Festival at the Tidal Basin in Washington, D.C., March 27, 2012. (Official White House Photo by Lawrence Jackson)

First Lady Michelle Obama participates in a centennial tree planting ceremony during the National Cherry Blossom Festival at the Tidal Basin in Washington, D.C., March 27, 2012. (Official White House Photo by Lawrence Jackson)

“I was really excited and thought it was really cool that I was selected to go to the Cherry Blossom Festival,” Josh said, appropriately wearing his 4-H bolo tie along with the Cherry Blossom Festival wristband given to him by the ambassador from Japan.

The White House marked the occasion with the ambassador from Japan to signal new beginnings as Japan rebuilds from last year’s tsunami. Inviting the young people to participate was a way to create history and new memories of the friendship between the two countries. As the United States and Japan celebrate a century since the first trees were planted and USDA celebrates its 150th anniversary, it was only fitting to have a 4-H member help with the planting.

USDA is home to the 4-H National Headquarters, which seeks to promote positive youth development, facilitate learning and engage young people with the efforts of USDA and the land-grant universities. Nearly 6 million young people, ages 5-19, participate in 4-H youth development programs in all 50 states, territories and military installations worldwide.

A third-year 4-H member and in the 5th grade, Josh is already heavily involved in the organization. He’s putting his family’s farm in Anne Arundel County, Maryland, to good use by participating in pig, cattle, chicken, sheep and horse projects. Working with the pigs is his favorite, and he has even won several first place awards and a grand champion award for his breeding pigs.

As farmland can be hard to find in their county, Josh said one of his favorite things about being in 4-H is getting to work with all his friends who keep their animals at the Tice’s farm. Well, that and the fact that he has fun while getting to save money for college.

4-H has become a family tradition, as both his parents were members along with his aunts and uncles.

“Being a couple 4-H’ers ourselves, [today] was pretty impressive,” Josiah said.

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