Decatur County 4-H’ers compete digitally

Published 3:00 pm Friday, April 24, 2020

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More than 425 fourth, fifth and sixth graders participated in Georgia 4-H’s recent Virtual Cloverleaf Project Achievement contest. In response to the cancellation of five area Project Achievement contests due to the COVID-19 crisis, Georgia 4-H faculty and staff quickly developed the Virtual Project Achievement Contest.

Last year, more than 3,700 youth collectively participated in more than a dozen Cloverleaf Project Achievement contests around the state. Thirteen area contests were originally scheduled for this year. While eight contests were held before March, more than 1,500 youth were registered to participate in the remaining contests. Ultimately, youth from 47 counties in all regions of Georgia were able to compete through the Virtual Project Achievement Contest.

Fifteen Decatur County youth were scheduled to participate in the Southwest District Area Cloverleaf Project Achievement contest in March. Through Virtual Project Achievement, 13 Decatur County youth were still able to submit their projects and compete.

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“Competing virtually was definitely different than being in front of a room full of people,” said Walker Elrod, a Grace Christian Academy sixth grader. “I would think I wouldn’t be as nervous, but when my mom said ‘Action’, my heart still skipped a beat or two!” Hutto Middle School sixth-grader Samantha Turnage stated, “I got to include props that I would not have otherwise been able to do, like my cat.” Langston Bennett, a Spring Creek Charter School sixth grader, commented, “I loved Virtual DPA because I wasn’t as nervous.”

The Project Achievement competition helps youth develop leadership, creativity, public speaking skills and a deep understanding of their desired project area.

Youth select from 62 project focus categories and prepare presentations on the county and area levels. When competing on the area level, participants prepare and are judged on a four- to six-minute presentation about their selected subject. For the online contest, youth uploaded a video of their presentation and their work was evaluated virtually by 170 UGA Extension staff and volunteer judges. Lacey West, Decatur County AmeriCorps, Corbin Austin, 4-H certified teen leader and Rachel Hayes, 4-H certified teen leader judged on behalf of Decatur County. The area level is the final tier for the younger participants in 4-H. However, as youth progress through the 4-H program, students have the opportunity to compete on district and state levels.

Participating youth were celebrated through a statewide video posted to social media outlets and viewable at Georgia 4-H has also provided resources to staff to assist in celebrating these youth virtually on a local and district level.

Decatur County 4-H’ers placed very well in this competition. First place awards went to Langston Bennett, Pork project; Bennett Earnest, Historic Places and Events project; Sutton Smith, Health project; Sydni Avery, Historic People; Zaliyah Weston, Food Fare project; and Walker Elrod, Performing Arts Instrumental project. Second place honors were awarded to Mary Margaret Beckham, Herpetology project; Yadira Nicolas, General Science project; Henry Lee, Team Sports project, Zaina Abueisheh, Between Meal Snacks project and Goldie Gossett, Historic Places and Events project. TaMyrin Hubert placed third in the Health project.

“These young people, with the support of their adult leaders and mentors, have contributed hours preparing for their presentations,” said Keri Hobbs, Extension 4-H specialist. “It is important that we take time to celebrate the accomplishments of these young people, even during times of social-distancing, as they demonstrate mastery of their topics. While awards ceremonies will be a little different than before, it seems fitting this spring that we’ll recognize these youth virtually – through social media and online meeting tools.”

Georgia 4-H empowers youth to become true leaders by developing necessary life skills, positive relationships and community awareness. As the largest youth leadership organization in the state, 4-H reaches more than 242,000 people annually through University of Georgia Cooperative Extension offices and 4-H facilities. For more information, contact your local Extension office at or or .