November 2018
Youth Matters

4-H Extension Corner: Making a Positive Difference

 

Danny Park found another talent when he tried public speaking. In 2017, he spoke on a topic that he not only loves, but knows quite a bit about: hunting. He was rewarded with first place for his speech on “Responsible Stewardship while Hunting.” In 2018, he won second place with the topic, “Safety in the Woods.”

Danny Park lives on a hobby farm in Guntersville with his mother, two brothers, horses, dogs and cats. Park’s older and younger brothers enjoy sports, while Danny is an avid outdoorsman, who prefers to fish and hunt. He also loves animals and spends hours training and taking care of his pets, especially Sage, his German shorthair pointer.

Since Danny was home-schooled, his mother, Laura Park, searched for a positive environment where Danny could channel his interests. She checked into 4-H, which had a club just for youth who did not have a club at their school or were home- schooled. It was here that Danny not only found activities that kindled his enthusiasm, but he also uncovered talents and strengths that he never knew he had.

The 4-H agricultural projects involving animals immediately piqued Danny’s interest, because this meant he would be outdoors. His first 4-H activity was the Market Lamb project. After working and training a Suffolk lamb named Bandit, he took fourth place for his efforts.

Next, he participated in the 4-H Chicken Barbeque contest, earning first place honors at the county competition in 2017.

Then came the 4-H Chick Chain. He named his hens Peanut and Butter, and he took first place in the County Round Up 4-H Chicken Que Contest and third and fourth in the Marshall 4-H Chick Chain Show. His hens still live on the Park farm, happily laying eggs each day.

Danny’s favorite activity, however, was the Market Steer project. He explained that he liked larger animals best, especially cows. Walter, one of his cows, was named the Reserve Champion-Alabama 4-H Market Steer. He also won first place in the Marshall County Roundup 4-H Freestyle Showcase for Animal Science.

"I like farm life with the animals," he explained. "It took a lot of my time, but I enjoyed feeding my steers. It’s a lot of responsibility, too, because my animals depend on me."

From the time Danny entered 4-H until now, his mother has noticed a big change in him. He has more direction and focus, because he has found the things that interest him, and he is doing what he loves.

"It’s turned Danny around," stated Laura Park. "4-H has given him a more structured and positive experience with a good group of children and parents. Our 4-H leaders have helped and guided him tremendously."

At first, only the agricultural and animal activities captured Danny’s attention, but after awhile, another 4-H activity challenged him to extend himself even farther. The public speaking project helped Danny uncover a talent that he did not know he had. Along the way, he found the confidence to believe in himself. With hard work and guidance, he found his voice, standing before an audience and speaking with ease and confidence. In 2017, he spoke on a topic that he not only loves, but also knows quite a bit about: hunting. He was rewarded with first place for his speech on "Responsible Stewardship while Hunting." In 2018, he won second place with the topic, "Safety in the Woods."

Kristen Roberson, the Marshall County 4-H Foundation Regional Extension Agent, stated that Danny is the kind of 4-H member that all agents hope to have at least once in their career.

"Danny has had a tremendous effect on all the members of our staff, along with his peers," stated Roberson. "He makes a positive difference to all those around him, adults and youth alike. I am confident that because of the hard work and dedication Danny has put forth to each and every one of his 4-H projects, he will no doubt make a large impact on the world around him, as he is already doing. We are extremely proud to call Danny a Marshall County 4-H’er."

In a positive, caring 4-H environment, Danny Park received the encouragement and the support to find himself. Now, he plans to go even farther. He is excited about his future and talks about going to Auburn University to study some area of agriculture, something he was not interested in until about two years ago when he found 4-H. Oh, and one more thing: Danny Park has even thought about becoming a 4-H leader, to make a positive difference in someone else’s life!

 

Carolyn Drinkard is a freelance writer from Thomasville. She can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..