May 2016
Youth Matters

4-H Extension Corner: Dream an Adventure with Alabama 4-H

2015-2016 4-H State Ambassadors

 

Mid-Winter Teen Leadership Retreat inspires and motivates participants.

Alabama 4-H State Ambassadors presented an outstanding 4-H Mid-Winter Teen Leadership Retreat titled Dream an Adventure with Alabama 4-H. The ambassadors created their own spin on Disney using the vison of Alabama 4-H and their goals for Mid-Winter.

(From left) Myrissa Webb (Cruella de Ville), Laurin Bell (Meg) and Brianna Fuchs (Belle), all from Shelby County, channel their inner Disney characters for the 4-H Mid-Winter Teen Leadership Retreat.

 

The youth transformed the Alabama 4-H Center into a 4-H magical wonderland. The cafeteria table settings mirrored the classic Disney movies, the pavilion was transformed into Epcot, and the youth used their creativity and presented Disney-theme workshops. While 138 youth from 38 counties engaged in fun workshops, the workshops also provided leadership opportunities, and built life skills and workforce development skills. The workshops included cupcake decorating, theater, cultural activities and dance.

Grace Howe from Randolph County attended her first Mid-Winter retreat.

"One thing that stands out in my experience at Mid-Winter was being able to interact with other kids and working together in the different workshops. I will use it to make a difference in my school," she said.

As the 4-H Ambassadors planned the retreat, they identified goals that would enhance the value of Mid-Winter. The youth who attended learned about new and exciting opportunities in 4-H and valuable leadership skills. Ambassadors also motivated senior 4-H members to stay active on the local and state levels and to always make the best better in Alabama 4-H.

Laurin Bell from Shelby County has attended Mid-Winter for three consecutive years. This year as 4-H State Ambassador, she had an opportunity to be in on the planning.

"This event never fails to leave me speechless with the power of our youth," she said. "At Mid-Winter, we are taught that our age plays no role in what we can accomplish. If we have the will to succeed, we will go further than we could ever dream possible.

"For the past three years, I have been blessed to attend Mid-Winter and every experience has been different. However, one thing always remains the same. The youth at this event constantly rise up to the tasks before them. As an attendee, the goal is to make lasting friendships and learn new information to take back and develop in your county. As a state ambassador, the task is to plan the retreat, make sure the weekend runs smoothly and to encourage other 4-H’ers around the state. Regardless of  their tasks, the youth go above and beyond what is expected from them."

The 2016 Mid-Winter was a great success. The 20 4-H State Ambassadors did an outstanding job planning and organizing it. Out of the 20 ambassadors, 14 will graduate this May.

During the retreat, several of the ambassadors reflected on their experience and time as an ambassador and 4-H member.

Rebecca Woods, a senior from Russell County, said being an ambassador provided her with numerous opportunities to better herself as a leader and an individual.

"While serving as an Alabama 4-H State Ambassador, I have established such a close bond with my fellow ambassadors that I now consider them family," Woods stated.

Brianna Fuchs, a junior from Shelby County, said as an ambassador she truly gets to experience the heart of what 4-H is: teamwork, leadership, generosity and family.

  Bre Heard and Brianna Fuchs showcase the top cities in Germany during the Epcot-themed workshop.

"There are many things that make being an ambassador special, but the biggest element is the other 4-H’ers involved. From the youth to the adult advisors, working together to plan events like Mid-Winter bonds everyone together through teamwork and creative thinking. The camaraderie is unique and special," Fuchs said.

State Council President and senior Taylor Parker from Cherokee County added, "I have been a member of 4-H for eight years. Before I joined 4-H, I knew it was going to influence my life in many ways. I grew up knowing that both my parents had amazing opportunities not only with 4-H but also with the Alabama Cooperative Extension System. Throughout my 4-H career, I have had so many opportunities to learn new things and make lifelong friendships. Because of my experiences and opportunities in 4-H, I have decided to become a human resource manager. 4-H helped me find my passion for working with people."

Parker added that being the 2015-2016 State 4-H Ambassador President impacted her in many ways.

"Just being a state council member for the past three years opened so many doors. I have had the opportunity to travel the country, join animal science teams and be a representative for 4-H as well as the state of Alabama. I have learned so many things about our environment, livestock, science and even art that I would never have learned otherwise. 4-H has influenced me to try new things, think creatively and make lifelong memories," Parker said.

Kayla Mitchell, state council vice president and junior from Covington County, said being a member of 4-H has been the greatest experience of her life.

"I joined in fourth grade and was voted class president," Mitchell recalled. "I soon began to participate in contests. The contest I did not want to try was public speaking because being in front of crowds terrified me. With support from my parents and 4-H agent, I began to enter these contests. Eventually I became a very good public speaker. I gained more confidence and courage every time I competed.

"This is my second year as an Alabama 4-H Ambassador. My involvement in 4-H as an ambassador has given me valuable experience in teamwork and leadership."

If you would like to dream the adventure with Alabama 4-H, contact your county Extension office or find more information on 4-H’s website, www.aces.edu/4-H-youth/AL4-H/.

Save the date of Feb. 3-5 for the 2017 Mid-Winter Teen Leadership Retreat at the Alabama 4-H Center.

Joy Maxwell Scott is a 4-H Youth Development Citizenship and Leadership Specialist.