4-H Project Achievement:
An Activity Loved by Parents and Youth Alike
Building public speaking skills is typically not on an eleventh grader’s priority list. However, Jauwn Jackson, a Bibb County 4-H’er, knows the value of this important life”skill. He was able to develop it with the help of an exciting opportunity offered at all Middle Georgia County Cooperative Extension Offices: 4-H Project Achievement.
“Project Achievement is one of the many opportunities that make Georgia 4-H so great,” explains Jackson. “Project Achievement has made me a better speaker, which will and has been very beneficial in my life.”
Jackson is one of the approximately 7,000 Georgia youth who participate in 4-H Project Achievement each year. The exciting competition challenges youth ages 9 to 19 to research, engage in service, and present a demonstration or speech on one of over 40 topic areas.
With topics like Computers, Family Resource Management, and Environmental Science, projects can introduce participants to new skills and even possible career paths. Once a topic is chosen, youth must become experts in their area. Both reading and active participation in that area is crucial to success at Project Achievement.
Of course the research and presentation are not the only components to 4-H Project Achievement. Participants, grades 7-12, must prepare a portfolio, which lists all 4-H participation, volunteer work, and project area work that the student has completed throughout the year. Portfolios even provide an opportunity for youth to list the books that they have read relating to their project area. With keen competition, portfolio work is a year-long process. Participants must consistently engage in 4-H activities and volunteer work, while keeping meticulous records of that participation. The portfolio challenges youth to build their knowledge in their topic area and share that knowledge with others.
The “sharing” component of 4-H Project Achievement portfolios has encouraged Sarah Beth Humphries, senior at Jones County High School, to develop a heart for serving others and a skill in sign language. Beginning 4-H as a 5th grader, Humphries participated in the “General Rec.” topic area of 4-H Project Achievement. She presented a speech on “Clowning”, an activity which she had joined through her church’s “Clown Troop”. 4-H has inspired Humphries to create her own clown ministry and develop sign language skills. She recently competed in the “Performing Arts General” category of 4-H District Project Achievement, where she performed sign language, received 3rd place, earned a trip to State Congress. She will serve as a “State Congress delegate” and compete in the state competition. Humphries plans to attend Georgia Southwestern University, where she will further develop her skills by earning a minor in sign language.
Humphries’s story is just one of the many 4-H Project Achievement success stories among Middle Georgia. 4-H Project Achievement will encourage your child to read, build career skills, volunteer, research reputable fields of study, and keep records.
However, the benefits do not end there. Participation in 4-H can lead to various college scholarships at both the state and county levels. Ashley Day of Peach County and Joshua Aikens of Monroe County are just two examples of 4-H’ers who are currently excelling in college with the help of 4-H scholarships.
To top it off, 4-H Project Achievement is an activity that can be enjoyed by the entire family. Parents are welcome to attend 4-H Project Achievement as spectators or volunteers. Many parents serve as overnight chaperones for the 4-H District Junior and Senior Project Achievement, which is a weekend event for 7th-12th graders. Siblings in the same age groups may compete in separate topic areas to eliminate competition.
It is no wonder why parents love 4-H Project Achievement, but why are youth attracted to this event? Despite its focus on learning and volunteerism, 4-H Project Achievement is fun.
Fifth and sixth graders attend 4-H Project Achievement in their district on a designated Saturday in either the fall or spring (depending upon county). When they are not delivering their presentation, they have the opportunity to participate in games, enjoy special entertainment, and meet friends from nearby counties. They are often times rewarded with parties, skating trips, and even scholarships to summer camp.
4-H District Project Achievement for 7th through 12th graders is a high energy weekend event. Participants may have the opportunity to attend a dance, enjoy miniature golf, or gather with new friends to play Rock Band on Wii. Elections are held for Junior and Senior Board of Directors, a group of 4-H’ers who plan and deliver 4-H events. Candidates in this election dress in interesting costumes and perform skits, raps, and dances to capture their peers’ votes.
Topic areas are available in many areas to ensure there is a topic to please the taste of any youth. Sports, wildlife, and performing arts are all popular topics among participants. Participants in dance, vocal, and instrumental topic areas must actually demonstrate their talents in a performance in front of their peers and a panel of judges. With keen competition, these performances are a treat for spectators.
Not only do youth enjoy participating in 4-H Project Achievement, but they have a strong desire to perform well. High school winners of 4-H District Project Achievements represent their district as 4-H State Congress Delegates. Delegates travel to Atlanta for an all-expense paid weekend, where they compete in the state 4-H Project Achievement competition and enjoy fun activities with friends. Here they have the opportunity to earn the prestigious title of “Master 4-H’er” and an all-expense paid trip to National 4-H Congress. In addition to these exciting rewards and opportunities to travel, much pride is gained in winning in one’s topic area of 4-H District Project Achievement. Winners of 4-H District Project Achievement are announced at a fun award ceremony, where peers cheer and applaud for the winners in their county.
Overall, 4-H Project Achievement provides youth with the opportunity to explore a topic that aligns with their unique interests, meet new friends, participate in fun activities, travel, build an appreciation for volunteerism, and gain life skills. Last year, over 100 Georgia high school seniors were recognized for their participation in 4-H Project Achievement since their 5th grade year of school. In just a short conversation with these youth, one will find them to be intelligent, well rounded, and mature. Many will admit that participation in 4-H Project Achievement shaped their lives for the better. Margo Braski, a freshman at UGA and a graduate of Mount De Sales High School in Macon, is proud to admit the impact 4-H Project Achievement made in her life. “Project Achievement is where I realized that hard work pays off and practice really does make perfect. I learned the true value of work ethic and to appreciate the experiences that have made me a more confident young adult,” explained Braski.
How to Get Involved
4-H District Project Achievement competition for 5th and 6th graders is a fall or spring activity with 7th through 12th graders competing in February and March. Details and deadlines vary by county so it is important to contact your county’s Cooperative Extension Office for more information. If you are interested in traveling with your child to overnight 4-H events, please ask your local 4-H agent about possible volunteer and overnight chaperone opportunities. For general information on Georgia 4-H, please visit www.georgia4h.org. You can also connect to your local extension office by calling 1-800-ASK-UGA1 or visiting http://www.caes.uga.edu/extension/office.cfm. J
By Kristin Strickland