There’s a new person standing on the 4-H Corner. Hi, I’m Amy Payne Burgess, the 4-H Regional Extension Agent for DeKalb, Marshall and Cherokee Counties. I’m housed in the Marshall County Cooperative Extension System Office, but like all 4-H Regional Agents, my work often keeps me on the road, working with 4-H staff and volunteers as they help build young lives.
Let me tell you a little about myself. I have a B.S. in Agricultural Science with a minor in Rural Sociology from Auburn and an M.S. in Continuing Education from the University of West Alabama. I was born in Blount County and I still reside there. My husband, James Burgess, and I have a daughter, Abby, who is three, and we are expecting twin boys in February.
We live on Double A Farms, my family’s cattle and forage farm in Snead. As a Blount County 4-H member, I participated in the market lamb project and on the livestock and meats judging teams. Both James and I are very active in our community and church and our county’s ALFA Young Farmers Organization.
The thing I most enjoy about 4-H is how it teaches life skills. Whether a young person stays in their small community or seeks success in a big city, what they learn in 4-H can make their lives better. If they choose to participate in a livestock project or if they choose a technology project, the life skills they learn are the same. I also enjoy the fact we adults can still be involved in 4-H, through the project work of our own children or by assisting our community’s youth. The possibilities for both youth and adult involvement are endless.
In trying to fill James Shropshire’s boots, I’ll keep you updated on some of the many exciting activities and opportunities available to Alabama’s young people and families through 4-H.
There’s a saying we have in Alabama 4-H: "4-H is where you live." That means the most important aspects of 4-H are what is going on in your county and your local community. Those include Clay County’s new Clay Busters shotgun club, the great successes Blount County 4-H had at their County Fair and the tremendous scarecrow Montgomery County’s Eastern Hills 4-H Club created for the Alabama National Fair. But it’s also club meetings, where young people have fun while learning about robotics, wildlife, livestock, art or other timely topics.
Statewide, you may want to be aware of some important events on the 4-H calendar. On Saturday, January 31, Auburn will host 4-H Day at its Men’s Basketball Game against Vanderbilt. 4-H members, volunteer leaders, parents and families will be admitted to the game free. To be part of the enthusiastic 4-H crowd, check with your local 4-H program or register online at www.alabama4h.com.
We are also beginning to recruit participants for our 2009 4-H Citizenship Washington Focus trip. CWF will be held on May 31—June 6. Thanks to the generous support of the Alabama 4-H Club Foundation, there is only a modest cost to participants. This week-long adventure allows teens to develop leadership and citizenship skills while they explore our nation’s capital. The application deadline is February 27. Information is also available through the Alabama 4-H website.
And it’s already time to begin making plans for summer 4-H camp at the beautiful Alabama 4-H Youth Development on Lay Lake near Columbiana. If you are looking for a great Christmas present for a child or grandchild, 4-H Summer Camp would be a memorable gift. Check the website for information on the easy, convenient on-line registration. Every school child who has visited the 4-H Coosa River Science School will tell you they are ready to return for 4-H Camp!
So, what’s going on around Alabama in 4-H? Well, we have received word that Jefferson County’s Lindsey Merrill finished second in the Individual Presentation competition at the Eastern National 4-H Horse Round-up in Louisville, with our state winners in Judging and Agri-Knowledge ready to compete.
Of course, it’s been a very busy fall for 4-H in every Alabama county. For example, Choctaw County 4-H just participated in Ag Day. This all-day event provided dozens of 6th graders with traditional 4-H "hands-on, minds-on" learning in areas as diverse as GPS, ATV Safety and Water Quality. Working under the leadership of Jena Perry, Southern Choctaw County High School Ag teacher, and in partnership with other agencies, Choctaw County Extension Coordinator Jennifer Miller and 4-H Regional Extension Agent Susan Thompson helped introduce young people to the interesting and complex world that is Alabama agriculture. Oh, and there were also baby ducks and chickens at the Petting Zoo!
As we enter the Christmas season, we in Alabama 4-H wish you a wonderful and happy holidays. As James often mentioned, our core values in 4-H revolve around Belonging, Independence, Generosity and Mastery – which we refer to as the "BIG M." During this season, we hope you will join with 4-H youth across Alabama in showing your generosity. In 4-H, we have often noted the call to "Make a Difference." This year, your generosity may make an even greater difference in someone’s life.