Busy Summer for 4-H: Head, Heart, Hands, Health

Published 5:48 pm Thursday, August 8, 2013


Kids learned fishing techniques at the Wet and Wild portion of the Tyrrell County 4-H Camp

Kids in Tyrrell County 4-H have been busy this summer with a packed list of summer activities.

Here is what has happened so far:
4-H Congress
The  4-H Congress is an annual educational event sponsored by the 4-H Youth Development Department at N.C. State University and planned by the State 4-H Council. This council is composed of 32 young people who serve as officers from their respective districts and 4 state officers who are elected at Congress. Official estimates noted that the Congress was going be attended by approximately 800 youths ranging in age from 9 to 19 and representing every county in North Carolina.

The major purposes of the 4-H Congress are:

  • To perpetuate the reputation of 4-H as a major state-wide educational program.

  • To improve delegates knowledge of current issues through educational experiences such as speakers, discussion groups, workshops, etc.

  • To provide an opportunity to develop and exercise leadership skills through serving on committees and participating in certain programs.

  • To provide an opportunity for delegates to participate in the democratic process through campaigning for and electing state 4-H officers.

  • To provide recreational and social experiences for delegates.

  • To select winners in presentations and certain activities through state contests.

   To provide recognition for project, activity, and scholarship winners.

4-H Congress is the third week in June.
Teams from ages 13 and up come from all over North Carolina to Raleigh. The Congress provides an opportunity to develop and exercise leadership skills through serving on committees and participating in certain programs.
“The first days that they are there they do presentations. Those district winners that we have if they are gold winners they can go on to state. We had three kids go to state,” said Tyrrell County 4-H Agent for Youth Development Bridget Spruill.
Lydia and Jon Mark Swain were other Tyrrell County residents who won gold and silver for their various work.
Attendees at the Congress split into two different tracks.
“One was a citizenship track. People on that track learned about  how legislation is developed and they went to downtown Raleigh to meet their legislators. The other track was a leadership track. This had teambuilding and workshops.
At night those in attendance listened to guest speakers. State and district officers are also elected at the Congress.

Local Girl Wins Award
Sixteen-year-old Grace Swain brought back the infamous Cecil and Leonard to WRAL’s Noon News on July 30,2013. The Tyrrell County 4-H member is the 2013 State Winner in the Cecil and Leonard Category at the recent state 4-H Congress.

Long-time WRAL Farm Reporter and CBC legend the late Ray Wilkinson was widely known for his Cecil and Leonard jokes, and the award is named in his memory.

Capitol Broadcasting partnered with North Carolina 4-H in January, 1996 to endow the Ray Wilkinson 4-H Scholarship Endowment. Many close friends and professional associates established the endowment to honor Wilkinson for his lifetime commitment to 4-H. He had served as President of the North Carolina 4-H Development Fund in order to generate private financial resources to help North Carolina 4-H reach more youth with quality educational programs and opportunities to gain life skills. As a pioneer among farm broadcasters, Wilkinson’s commitment to young people helped make communities strong.

“For over 103 years North Carolina 4-H has uniquely provided youth the opportunity to explore a project that interests them and demonstrate what they have learned to others through presentations at the club, community, county, district and state levels,” said NC State Executive Director of Development, NC 4-H and Family and Consumer Sciences and Director of Fund Development for North Carolina 4-H Programs Craven Hudson.  “We hold contests at the county, district and state levels to encourage and reward 4Hers. The goal is life skill building. Not many 4-Hers will reach the Ray Wilkinson level, but tens of thousands of young people have improved their presentation and public speaking skills through 4-H. The presentation program will always be foundational to North Carolina 4-H.”

In October 2012, the idea for a 4-H Cecil and Leonard contest was born as a way to get more kids interested in 4-H Performing Arts.   NC 4-H put together a plan and asked Capitol Broadcasting for financial support.  CBC pledged four years of support for the Cecil and Leonard Category.

In 2013, that support paid for scholarships for 1 district winner from each of NC Cooperative Extension’s 5 districts to attend the NC 4-H Congress that was held on June 22-25 on NC State’s Campus.

“CBC’s support provided nice prizes to the 1st, 2nd and 3rd place winners,” said Hudson.  “There is also sufficient funding for the state winner to travel the state promoting 4-H Expressive Arts.”

WRAL-TV Anchor/Reporter Debra Morgan made the awards presentations.

“What an honor for me to attend the 4-H Cecil and Leonard competition,” said Morgan.  “These young folks really captured Ray’s charm and timing in their storytelling.  Since I worked with Ray, I clearly remember his stories on and off the news desk, and this event brought back wonderful memories.  Ray always made me laugh!  In fact, one time my eyes became a little misty when a young man told some of the funny, short stories just like Ray used to do.  I asked all of the students if they had just read the Cecil and Leonard stories or if they listened to tapes of Ray in order to prepare; all of them had listened to him.  They even replicated Ray’s little snicker he used to do when he changed his voice into the characters!   While it was difficult for the judges to choose a winner, Grace certainly had an amazing presentation.  Her adorable country twang combined with the funny Cecil and Leonard escapades won all our hearts!”
Swain explained how she got involved with 4-H and the work she did to win the Cecil and Leonard award.
“This opportunity was made possible through the North Carolina 4-H program with a partnership with WRAL.  Every year, since I was nine years old,I have done a 4-H presentation on the district level and have  been able to take that presentation to a state level each year as well,” she said.

This year was the first year for the Cecil & Leonard category to be presented.  Swain jumped at the opportunity because she had heard the Cecil and Leonard stories presented during the Centennial 4-H Gala in Raleigh about five years ago.  She loved the stories and was honored to share them on presentation day as well as with her friends and family.

 After selecting a few of her favorite stories Swain practiced them for anyone who would listen.  Her Grandpa Fred and Mr. Frank Winslow, Tyrrell County’s Ag Extension Director, was instrumental in helping her to refine her presentation.

“They had actually had the honor of hearing these stories performed by Mr. Wilkinson himself some years ago,” Swain.

 Because Swain won the Cecil and Leonard Competition at the district Level back in March she received a scholarship to go the 4-H Congress in Raleigh.  After competing there she was named the winner and received the opportunity to share these stories on WRAL as well as share them throughout this year.

“It was great to be at the station and meet the reporters and the news broadcasters.  I also met a lot of the behind the scenes men and women that make the station run.  I was given a tour of the station and felt so welcome there.  They were one big happy family and you could tell how much they loved and miss Mr. Ray Wilkinson and his stories,” said Swain

Each year, Tyrrell County’s 4-H agent, tries to fill in as many presentation categories as possible.  The participants try not to compete against each other so only one or two from each county will be in a category.  Swain was the only Cecil and Leonard participant from Tyrrell County.

“4-H has given me the most awesome opportunities; some of which include livestock show, fashion revue, talent show, and numerous leadership and citizenship opportunities.  I am also very involved with my church and youth group. I would encourage everyone to get involved in the 4-H program in their county,” said Swain.
Summer Activities
Tyrrell County 4-H held a Camp Gone Wild on August 1 and 2.

Bridget Spruill. Extension Agent, for 4-H Youth Development in Tyrrell County discussed some of the camp offerings.

“Project Learning Tree was on Thursday. It focused on how to count the age of a tree and what wood products we get from trees. Project Wild focused on wild animals. Pocosin Arts had a project involving tiles,” said Spruill.

The rest of Thursday included an Archery class with instructors from Pocosin Lakes National Wildlife Refuge.

Friday included activities like Project Catch which was a class in fishing instruction.  Wildlife Resource Officers also led courses at the BB Gun Range and also took people fishing.

42 kids attended the camp with 10 volunteers.