4-H 4-ever Last­ing 4-H con­nec­tions

The Covington News - - Education - Terri Kim­ble is the New­ton County 4-H Agent through UGA Co­op­er­a­tive Ex­ten­sion. She can be reached at (770) 784-2010 or tkim­ble@uga.edu.

One of my 4-H’ers said that she has at­tended school with the same peo­ple for 12 years.

At school, peo­ple de­cided who she was a long time ago, and she feels like she can’t do much to change their im­age of her.

But at 4-H events, she can be any­one she wants to be — and boy does she shine.

I felt much the same in school, liv­ing for each 4-H event to be that per­son I wanted to be at school.

Fif­teen years since grad­u­a­tion, and I’m sure glad I made those 4-H con­nec­tions. I feel like I barely keep in touch with most peo­ple from high school, and I didn’t bother at­tend­ing my re­union five years ago.

But run into a 4-H friend I haven’t seen in a while, and it’s just like we were to­gether at camp last week.

I’m so glad I get to at­tend 4-H alumni func­tions much more of­ten than a blue moon comes around.

At 4-H global am­bas­sador train­ing a few weeks ago, the youth learned how for­tu­nate we are in the U.S. to forge our paths, un­like peo­ple in some coun­tries who are locked into a caste or role they didn’t have any choice about.

Even Vince Doo­ley saw the light and be­came a bull­dog, or bull­dawg, af­ter his stu­dent days at Auburn.

His daugh­ter was a Ge­or­gia 4-H’er when one of my col­leagues was agent in that county, and she in­vited him to speak at an ex­ten­sion agent func­tion on Thurs­day.

He kept us laugh­ing with sto­ries about his for­mer students and col­leagues, and I mar­veled at the in­cred­i­ble con­nec­tions he made over his in­cred­i­ble ca­reer.

One of my fa­vorite sto­ries was about a for­mer football player invit­ing him along as he sought a spe­cial dream for the state: to bring the cen­ten­nial Olympic games to At­lanta.

Billy Payne achieved that dream, and Doo­ley was with him when the games were awarded to At­lanta.

I have to ad­mit, as en­gag­ing as Doo­ley was, I couldn’t help but spend a mo­ment think­ing about some of my 4-H’ers and what dreams they might fol­low one day.

I left Athens and headed down to Jekyll Is­land 4-H Cen­ter for Mas­ter 4-H Week­end, though, and con­sid­ered again what in­cred­i­ble con­nec­tions I al­ready have through 4-H.

Mon­day, we held our an­nual New­ton County 4-H Banquet, to honor the 4-H’ers for last year’s achieve­ments.

We also hon­ored dozens of or­ga­ni­za­tions and in­di­vid­u­als in­clud­ing the New­ton County Board of Com­mis­sion­ers, New­ton County Board of Ed­u­ca­tion, Pied­mont Cat­tle­men’s As­so­ci­a­tion, Main Street Cov­ing­ton and The Cov­ing­ton News for their in­cred­i­ble level of sup­port this year.

Sev­eral dozen adult vol­un­teers were on hand, with­out which our pro­grams would not be pos­si­ble.

An­other high­light of the night for me was see­ing how much sup­port our an­nual silent auc­tion has gained.

Thanks to gen­er­ous donors in­clud­ing Hayes Fur­ni­ture, Belk’s, Carmike Cinema, and sev­eral per­sonal fam­i­lies, we raised $800 in the auc­tion, plus $150 from do­na­tions.

This will go a long way to sup­port­ing our students’ work in projects and other com­pe­ti­tions this year.

But more than any­thing, it re­minded me again about those 4-H con­nec­tions. Here in our community, join­ing 4-H gives you a con­nec­tion to alumni and other community sup­port­ers. And now, this week­end, I’m at Mas­ter 4-H Week­end at Jekyll with more than 100 alumni and fam­ily from across the south­east. Dur­ing in­tro­duc­tions, a lo- cal Mas­ter Club mem­ber from Cony­ers laid claim to the ear­li­est 4-H Mas­ter award of any­one present for the event — 1939. We also have two mem­bers present who mas­tered in 2012. Seventy-three years of Mas­ter 4-H’ers, to­gether cel­e­brat­ing our con­nec­tions this week­end. I mas­tered in 1996 and 1997, but I stand in awe of the in­cred­i­ble con­nec­tions, and amaz­ing ex­pe­ri­ence rep­re­sented here this week­end. One of the ba­sic tenets of 4-H is be­long­ing, and I hope each of our new 4-H’ers this year re­al­izes what a rich and won­der­ful group they now be­long to both in New­ton County and around the world. I hope they, too, will al­ways feel like they’ve come home when they come to their next 4-H event.

Terri Kim­ble /The Cov­ing­ton News

Caleb Ruffner and Gar­rett Carl­son check out the horse­shoe crab at Jekyll 4-H Cen­ter. Both are at­tend­ing Mas­ter 4-H Camp with their fam­i­lies.

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