December 2014
Youth Matters

4-H Extension Corner: Leaders of Tomorrow

  2014-15 State Council at 4-H Youth and Development Center in Columbiana.  From left to right, front row, are Joy Maxwell (State Council Advisor), Taylor Parker (State Council Vice-President), Mary Matthews (State Council Secretary), Emily Long, Olivia Byrd (State Council President) and Ronni Rena Brasher (State Council Advisor); second row, Elle Clark, Miller Kinstley, Kayla Mitchell , Paige Wilbanks,  Kirsten Holt (State Council Advisor) and Delaney Davenport; back row, Dr. Paul Brown, (Associate director of Extension), Doug Summerford (State Council Advisor), Andrew Williamson, Jonathan Hart  and Dr. Gary Lemme, (Director of Extension).

Alabama 4-H State Council prepares youth to become meaningful members of their communities.

The Alabama 4-H State Council program provides opportunities for youth to represent 4-H through leadership and citizenship that contributes meaningfully to their communities. The 2014-2015 Alabama 4-H State Council is composed of approximately 13 energetic and positive high school students who act as ambassadors for Alabama 4-H. The 4-H State Council often meets with 4-H county youth councils and regional councils as well as 4-H groups in their local areas, region and state.

State council members are selected by completing an application through their 4-H foundation agent and also an interview process with state council advisors. The youth meet several times during the year at the Alabama 4-H Center, via conference and social media. During the face-to-face meetings, they get to know each other through team building activities, retreat planning and promoting 4-H around Alabama. State 4-H events and leadership workshops also keep the council very active.

This year’s officers are Olivia Byrd, Marion County, president; Taylor Parker, Cherokee County, vice president; and Mary Matthews, Jefferson County, secretary. Other members include Caitlyn Barnhill, Escambia County; Tyler Barrett, Cullman County; Elle Clark, Marshall County; Delaney Davenport, Pike County; Jonathan Hart, Russell County; Miller Kinstley, Shelby County; Emily Long, Dale County; Kayla Mitchell, Covington County; Paige Wilbanks, Lauderdale County; and Andrew Williamson, Morgan County.

4-H State Council by region.  

State Council President Byrd stated, "I am honored to be the 2014-2015 Alabama 4-H State Council President. 4-H has given me so many incredible opportunities, and I am humbled to finally be able to give something back. It is very rewarding to share my leadership skills and creativity with a group of such outstanding young people, who in return have helped me continue to grow and learn in this program as well."

The state council has five advisors who provide guidance and leadership to the council members as they prepare for events and activities. The advisors are Ronni Rena Brasher, Sarah Butterworth, Kirsten Holt, Doug Summerford and myself, Joy Maxwell.

It gives me great honor to work with outstanding and energetic 4-H State council members. The advisers and I allow the council members to use their leadership skills and creative minds to plan and coordinate Mid-Winter and other 4-H activities. Each of the council members showcases great leadership and citizenship skills throughout their community and state.

One of their major responsibilities is planning the annual 4-H Mid-Winter Teen Leadership Retreat held at the Alabama 4-H Center every February. The council members take the lead in planning the event from the theme to the decorations. The 2015 theme is "Futuristic Galaxy!" The event will take place Feb. 6-8, 2015.

"Our state council members amaze me with their energy and commitment to engage Alabama’s youth in positive experiences. They truly exemplify the essential elements of 4-H: Belonging, Independence, Generosity and Mastery," Summerford said.

The council members also prepare the annual statewide 4-H community service project. In the past, the council members have focused on Alabama’s Ronald McDonald houses as their main community service project. Each county would collect items such as paper plates, toothpaste, coloring books and much more. The items were divided between the Mobile, Tuscaloosa and Birmingham Ronald McDonald houses.

This year’s community service project is school supplies. 4-H members will collect school supplies and donate them to the school of their choice in their county. The council members truly enjoy giving back by helping other 4-H members across the state learn the value of leadership and community service.

As part of the 4-H Centennial Youth Initiative, the state council members will be called 4-H Ambassadors starting July 2015. The youth will have the same responsibilities, but their current uniform will change to Kelly green blazers, black slacks, black skirts and a bow tie. The current State Council members are really excited about the new changes with the new name for state council and attire. If you are interested in learning more about Alabama 4-H, please view the 4-H website at

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