4-H’er for life

Published 6:29 am Monday, March 18, 2013

GATESVILLE – “I pledge my head to clearer thinking, my heart to greater loyalty, my hands to larger service, and my health to better living, for my club, my community, my country and my world.”

Those 33 words serve as the foundation of 4-H clubs throughout the nation. In the case of GatesCounty 4-H, they added “Hungry to Help” to that famous pledge.

That was the theme for GatesCounty 4-H annual Achievement Night held March 4 in the gym at Gatesville Elementary School. The event is a recognition banquet celebrating the achievements of Gates County 4-H’ers, volunteers and donors. It’s also a tribute of those local 4-H’ers who have used the organization to build the foundation of their professional career. One such Gates County 4-H alum, Cindy Smith Barber, served as the guest speaker at the Achievement Night festivities.

Barber, a 1990 graduate of Gates County High School, is the mother of three and still resides in Gates County. She recalled her first encounter with 4-H while enrolled as a student at Gatesville Elementary.

“That’s the first time I ever met Miss Reba Green (now Mrs. Green Holley, then Gates County 4-H Agent and now director of Gates County Cooperative Extension),” Barber said. “I didn’t think Cooperative Extension had anything to offer for me, but what they offer isn’t all about farming….it also takes the youth of our community and builds them up, one child at the time.”

Barber said she was able to “find myself” through 4-H. She said 4-H gave her a different outlook on life by developing self-esteem and self-confidence in the youth of GatesCounty.

“Before becoming a part of Gates County 4-H, I only went to school, played my clarinet and participated in family functions,” she recalled. “4-H gave me the confidence in myself to participate in activities and develop a desire to make a difference in my community. 4-H helped me develop my communication skills, particularly in public speaking, problem-solving skills, the ability to work in groups, and, most importantly, it taught me to never quit working towards a goal. Goal setting was high on Miss Reba’s list.”

Barber added that 4-H training also assisted her in how to properly interview for a job when she was a young adult.

“Because of everything I learned through 4-H, I was able to have the confidence during an interview for a job to tell them that they needed me just as badly as I needed a job,” she said. “I got the job.”

4-H also prepared Barber for a profession in education as well as using those skills to become a better parent.

“I’ve introduced my children to 4-H,” she noted. “I knew where they could go to help them develop their self-esteem and self-confidence, and gain those through the positive mentoring found in the adults and volunteers of 4-H.”

Barber credited Green Holley, Denise Miller and the now late Helene Knight for guiding her to where she is today. The present for Barber includes her involvement as a community volunteer.

“Without 4-H, I don’t know what I would have become,” Barber stressed. “It gave me a heart to serve others; it gave me a love of community and how to help others.”

Even 20 years removed from her time spent as a local 4-H member, Barber said the organization still impacts her personal life. She said a choice to eat unhealthy foods coupled with an inactive lifestyle led to a problem with her weight. However, thanks to becoming involved in the “Eat Smart Move More” program offered by Cooperative Extension, Barber has lost 70 pounds.

“4-H and Cooperative Extension in our community isn’t just for youth, it’s for all ages. There’s something for everyone and once you become involved, you become a member of that family. I’m a 4-H’er for life,” she concluded.

Also on the agenda was Jonathan Jones of Gates County SECU who serves as president of the local 4-H Advisory Council.

“It’s always good to see the good things in our young people,” Jones stated. “So often we hear and see when they do wrong; what’s we’re seeing and hearing tonight is a reflection of what they are doing right by serving their communities in such a positive way.

“There were 585 youth that participated in 4-H programs last year here in Gates County. That’s a great sign that these programs are reaching out and attracting such a high number of young people. While we’re here to salute the achievements of those young people, we need to stop and thank the parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, neighbors and other adults that were able to get these kids to the events,” Jones concluded.

In addition to the numerous awards handed out to county youth for their involvement in 4-H projects and presentations at the local, regional and state level, the night was filled with fun, food and entertainment.

Keli Boone, GatesCounty 4-H Agent, shared various activities and programs throughout this past year with a “4-H Reflections” slideshow. Dan Askew, Executive Vice President of Southern Bank in Gatesville, gave the invocation. Gates County High School English teacher Tivantee Reid provided inspiration by singing “What About the Children” by Yolanda Adams. Also providing entertainment for the night was the Gates County High School step team, also known as the “G Cubs” sponsored by Renee Nicholson, 4-H volunteer.

The program began with local 4-H’ers Christopher Ashley, Bobby Knight, and Douglas Ashley respectively leading the audience in reciting the national Pledge of Allegiance, 4-H Pledge and 4-H Motto. 4-H’er Josh Cross shared the “Thought for the Day.”

Senior 4-H’er Junee Nelson was recognized. Reshamah Walton was the recipient of the Helene Knight 4-H.Scholarship. Volunteers and 4-H Advocates were also recognized. Christina Thomas was the recipient of the Reba Green Holley 4-H College Scholarship.

Special recognition was given to the following:

Volunteer of the Year: Cal Bryant of the Gates CountyIndex

Junior 4-H’er of the Year: Dy’Quan Freeman

Senior 4-H’er of the Year: Xavier Roscoe

Special Interest 4-H’er of the Year:

Genesis-Buckland: Kalab Logan

Genesis- Gatesville: Brian Horne

Genesis-T.S. Cooper: Douglass Ashley

Genesis-Central: Dy’Quan Freeman

Genesis-HighSchool: Xavier Roscoe

SACC-Buckland: Jamiere Beasley

SACC- Gatesville: Lily Williams

SACC-T.S. Cooper: Douglas Ashley

About Cal Bryant

Cal Bryant, a 40-year veteran of the newspaper industry, serves as the Editor at Roanoke-Chowan Publications, publishers of the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald, Gates County Index, and Front Porch Living magazine.

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