Thompson, Berry honored as Outstanding 4-Hers

Annual banquet highlights youth activities

By Kevin Spradlin
PeeDeePost.com

* Photo gallery

ROCKINGHAM — Kristi Reep turned away from the podium, her back to the audience of five dozen or so people of a healthy mix of gender, race and age, and tried to wipe away an anxious tear.

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com Kristi Reep, president of the North Carolina 4-H South Central District, was nervous but managed to get through her time at the podium as keynote speaker.

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com
Kristi Reep, president of the North Carolina 4-H South Central District, was nervous but managed to get through her time at the podium as keynote speaker.

She hoped nobody would notice. Not a chance. That, however, is the part of the big picture of 4-H — taking young people and given them opportunities to step out of their comfort zone.

For Repp, it was speaking to a crowd on Friday night, the keynote speaker in an annual ceremony that honors the youth of Richmond County 4-H. The event took place at the Richmond County Extension Office on Caroline Drive.

“I don’t normally get nervous like this,” Reep said. “Then again, I usually don’t talk in front of a lot of people I don’t know.”

By the end of her speech, however, the audience focused on the substance of her speech instead of the halted beginning highlighted by a breaking voice. When she was finished, Reep took a moment before stepping away. She survived the ordeal after all. It turns out, she’s been proving herself — and others — wrong for some time.

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com Faith Thompson was recognized as the female Outstanding 4-Her on Friday night.

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com
Faith Thompson was recognized as the female Outstanding 4-Her on Friday night.

Reep talked from her position as president of the South Central District. She was elected to lead the teen council in one of five North Carolina districts, members of which help plan districtwide events such as activity day and teen retreat for 4-Hers ages 13 to 18.

Reep said that when she decided to run for president, she almost talked herself out of it. And the fear she had internally was supported by those who suggested she wouldn’t — couldn’t — win.

But, “‘I might as well do it big,'” she told herself. “They doubted me. I ran (for president), and you see where I’m at now.”

Laura Grier, Richmond County 4-H agent, said that’s exactly what’s supposed to happen.

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com Coleman Berry accepts a plaque from Laura Grier, Richmond County 4-H agent, after being named male Outstanding 4-Her.

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com
Coleman Berry accepts a plaque from Laura Grier, Richmond County 4-H agent, after being named male Outstanding 4-Her.

“Public speaking is a huge life skill,” Grier said. “They learn that it doesn’t kill ’em.”

Tiffanee Conrad, Richmond County livestock agent who oversees the 4-H LiveStock Club with leaders Jessica Hamilton and Hattie Reep, said youth learn about animal science, including topics such as animal husbandry and compassion.

“But in all of this, we’re growing kids,” Conrad said. “We’re not growing the animals.”

Among the 4-H youth recognized Friday night were Coleman Berry and Faith Thompson. Berry placed third among 78 contestants in goat showmanship at the North Carolina State Fair and has accepted and excelled in leadership positions in 2014 while mentoring younger 4-Hers.

Thompson, a home-schooled student, also has assumed a leadership role within the youth-led, adult-nurtered organization. Thompson also competed at the state fair, placing fifth in her class.

Along with Thompson and Berry, Sarah Maske also was recognized by Grier. Last year was Maske’s final one in 4-H, as she has now aged out of the program.

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com While the older crowd focused on the words of speakers at the podium, parents found ways to quietly entertain the younger members of the audience.

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com
While the older crowd focused on the words of speakers at the podium, parents found ways to quietly entertain the younger members of the audience.

Susan Kelly, county extension director, opened the program by telling of the origins of 4-H, which date back to the 1800s. Into the early 1900s, Kelly said adult farmers were not quick to accept university-led research into best new practices. Then came 4-H, a partnership between federal, state and local governments to educate and empower youth to take the newly learned lessons to their family farms.

It worked, Kelly said, and 4-H later became the largest youth development organization in the United States. She told of how boys were given 1 acre to farm corn, and parents realized their youngsters’ yields tripled the industry average. Opportunities for girls soon followed. In 1911, one young lady earned $232 canning tomatoes crown on a patch of ground one-tenth of an acre in size.

Agriculture officials and even the most reluctant parents, Kelly said, realized “they were on to something.”

The event was sponsored in part by United Way of Richmond County and the Richmond County Farm Bureau. Attendees enjoyed a dinner catered by #1 Diner, which will celebrate its 22nd year next month.

Filed in: Farm & Ag, Featured News, Latest Headlines, News

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