Gordon County 4-H has been a leader in public speaking education in our area for decades. Very soon our 4-H staff of Becky Pass and Kurt Sutherland will be taking nearly 60 of our 5th and 6th graders to competition in Rome. This grade grouping is our Cloverleaf 4-H’ers. At this level, the presentations are about six minutes in length, but will include an introduction, main topics to discuss and a conclusion.
The presentation will be reinforced by posters and visual aids to help the young person get their points across. Cloverleaf Project Achievement is a beginning part to the public speaking process that we hope the youth will continue until they compete as Senior 4-H’ers. We hope in high school they will win state and become a “Master 4-H’er” in project achievement.
Why is 4-H project achievement and teaching youth to be quality public speakers important? You may not know this, but the fear of public speaking is the top fear of many Americans. The thought of getting up in front of a group of people and talking is unbearable for many. Our goal in 4-H is to help 4-H’ers at a young age conquer this fear.
I remember myself as a 5th graders going with the Gordon 4-H delegation to the old Armurchee High School and competing in the Rabbit project. I remember preparing my speech and my posters and getting up and giving that presentation. At that moment, I thought it was the most important speech ever given. I was nervous and then relieved when it was over, but I remember that feeling of accomplishment when I heard my name called out as first place in my project area.
Back in those days, the award’s ceremony was not as detailed as it is today, but it did not matter to me. I had stood up in a room of folks, gave a presentation and conquered that fear. Today, public speaking on various topics is just part of my job with extension. I will tell you, I may still get nervous before a talk, but those days as a 4-H’er helped prepare me for what I do today.
You can also say that youth participation in project achievement is a life skill learning opportunity. As I previously stated, public speaking is a top fear of many adults. I wonder how many folks have decided to not apply for a better paying job or put in for a leadership position just because that advancement required them to do some public speaking in front of a group of peers. Starting a young person early in public speaking will help them learn how to prepare a presentation and then Gordon 4-H can help them enhance those public speaking skills that I believe everyone has. You just have to work on those skills.
How can I get my young person involved in 4-H public speaking? After our Cloverleaf members compete in Rome, Miss Becky and Mr. Kurt will turn their attention to the 7 th grade and older youth and their March competition at Rock Eagle. That delegation has been already entered for competition.
A twist to project achievement for the older youth is that they also do a portfolio that counts as part of their competition score. The portfolio preparation is another life skill obtaining because in theory is teaching our older 4-H’ers to keep records and to put things in more of a resume form of sorts. This skill will come in handy when 4-H’ers are looking to become a part of the workforce when they become adults.
Remember 4-H is open for youth from ages 9-19 or from graders 9-19. Give Miss Becky and Mr. Kurt a call and they can get your youngster involved in project achievement.
Finally, little did I know back in the day how much that presentation on rabbits and representing Gordon 4-H and Belwood Elementary would help me as an adult. I went on to do more presentations in the Beef and Swine Production areas, but I will never forget that first presentation.
I know there are many more Gordon County citizens that remember their days doing projects in Gordon 4-H. I like to say we have projects areas from A to Z. We have a project area for almost every hobby or special interest of any youth so I encourage area young folks to jump on board and keep our rich Gordon 4-H project achievement tradition strong.
For more information contact Gordon County Extension at 706-629-8685 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.