4-H Competitions and Programs Continue in the Virtual World
Maggie McCall, age 14, is an accomplished public speaker. She has years of experience in choosing topics, researching, and preparing presentations, and has earned multiple awards. Maggie’s learned to start planning and working several months in advance of the competition. Skills developed doing a 4-H presentation include self-confidence, communication, and responsibility.
But this year was different, and harder. Maggie admits that doing her presentation virtually was not as motivating as doing it in front of an audience. She missed the eye contact with judges and the audience. Preparing a video took a lot more perseverance. She also had to learn new technical skills. Maggie created a PowerPoint presentation for the first time this year, and figured out how to “cast” her presentation to the TV. Maggie’s family, too, learned skills as they videoed her presentation. Critical thinking, resiliency, and problem solving were added to the skills that Maggie has learned with 4-H presentations.
Maggie’s family owns Stepp’s Hillcrest Orchard, and Maggie spends lots of time on the farm. Each year she chooses a topic related to the farm for her 4-H presentation. This has come in handy, because she’s been able to put into practice what she’s learned. One of Maggie’s favorite topics is soil, and this year’s presentation was about soil testing of pH and nutrients to determine recommendations for apple tree health. Maggie and her siblings have a secret ingredient in their presentations, excellent coaching from their grandmother, Rita Stepp. Maggie believes in the value of the 4-H public speaking program. She says, “I used to be really shy. I can talk to people now.” Maggie understands that learning to create presentations is preparing her for college or a career.
This year Henderson County 4-H had 38 presentations at the county level, 22 at the district level, and 16 at the state level. One advantage of the virtual competition this year was that 4-H alumni, some who live far away, were able to judge. Thank you to the coaches and judges who encouraged our presenters. Thank you also to Selee Corporation, Jack and Jane Gibbins, Billie Schell, Jennifer, and Lindsey Bryant, donors to the Frankie, Steve and Gary Ruff Memorial Fund, funds earned from donations to Books for Good, and participants in the 4-H Plant Sale for helping to provide awards for presenters.
Presentations are not the only thing that have become virtual this year. Many 4-H events have been online, including NC 4-H Camp and Congress. Bryson Capps and Haley Hargus were inducted into NC 4-H Honor Club this year during 4-H Congress. The virtual format made it easy for friends and family members, who are Honor Club members, to “induct” them. Membership in the North Carolina 4-H Honor Club is bestowed upon those 4-H’ers who have exhibited outstanding 4-H citizenship, leadership, and community service. An Honor Club member continues to provide leadership and service to the total 4-H program throughout life. Capps and Hargus joined 41 Henderson County 4-H Honor Club members who have been inducted since 1931, including Russ Burrell, Stan Duncan, and Stephanie Coggins Bailey.
NC 4-H is providing virtual classes for ages 5-18 about plants and bugs, nutrition and gardening, exploring the outdoors, farm animals, leadership, home economics, and science, technology, engineering, and math. These courses have an online component, and activities to do outside or in the house. Registration for most of these programs is open through August 15, 2020. These classes will be available online through the end of August.
In addition, “Meet the Scientist” is a class for teens to meet with different types of scientists on Sunday afternoons at 4 p.m. The first scientist will be a pharmacist, on August 2. Register for this class by July 31. An advantage the virtual format is that teens will be able to see and speak with scientists from many different locations.
Denise Sherrill is the 4-H Agent for Henderson County. 4-H is the Youth Development Program of N.C. Cooperative Extension, which is a division of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at NC State University. Visit Henderson County 4-H, our Facebook page, call 697-4891 or email Denise_Sherrill@ncsu.edu to learn more about 4-H virtual programs or endowments. Donors are always needed to help provide scholarships for 4-H presentations, camp, and other activities. Donations may be sent to: Henderson County 4-H, 100 Jackson Park Road, Hendersonville, NC 28792.