In front of a packed audience at the University of Delaware’s Elbert N. and Ann. V. Carvel Research and Education Center in Georgetown Feb. 8, 22 members of Sussex County 4-H stepped onstage, approached a lectern and microphone, and spoke on a variety of topics.
Many people who know 4-H as an agricultural-based youth program may be surprised to learn that developing public speaking skills and participating in county and state contests is one of many project areas offered in the 4-H curriculum. Alumni of 4-H who have participated in the public speaking contests credit the experience as a key life skill that builds confidence and gives 4-H’ers a competitive edge in academic and employment interviews.
“The public speaking participants did an outstanding job! There were a variety of topics, and the audience could tell that each speaker had a great interest in what they had to share,” said Jill Jackson, 4-H educator for Sussex County. “Speech topics included: historical figures, animals, family activities, and lessons learned. It was evident that the participants prepared for the event as they each spoke clearly, had good eye contact, and engaged the audience with relatable topics and humor.”
4-H members research a topic of their choice, practice and deliver a speech ranging from one and a half minutes to five minutes, depending on the age category. “The public speaking event not only helps 4-H’ers feel comfortable speaking in front of an audience, it also helps the youth share their passions in a variety of activities. This event truly exhibits what 4-H is all about!” Jackson said.
The winners, who will all advance to the state contest in July at the 2014 Delaware State Fair, are as follows by age division, name, town, club name and title of speech: 8-9 Division: Zoe Probert, Millsboro, Cypress Hearts & Hands 4-H Club, “The Legend of Flip Flop Rock”; 10-11 Division: Jenna Anger, Bridgeville, Bridgeville Mustangs 4-H Club, “More Than Just Stripes”; 12-13 Division: Jill Koski, E. New Market, Seaford Blue Jays 4-H Club, “It Shore is Special”; 14-plus Division: Emmaly Salkowitz, Seaford, Stateline 4-H Club, “Music.”
Other ribbon winners were Harmony Broussard, Rachel Carey, Alexia Carroll, Collin Cunningham, Zoe Cunningham, Sarah Krajewski, Anna Lopez, Thomas McCabe, Samantha Messick, Taylor Messick, Gabriella Morra, Alexandra Nechay, James Rieley, Matthew Rieley, Luke Stachow, Daniel Tull, Alanna Vanderwende and Aydan Vanderwende.