Public Speaking: Start Early and Practice Often

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For many years, 4-H has encouraged millions of youths worldwide to become proficient at public speaking. This communication skill allows the sharing of information and enhances the potential to motivate change. Although public speaking may inspire fear in both young and old, it’s a necessary skill for present and future success. The younger a person begins to practice this important skill, the more comfortable and less scary it will seem.

Do you want to get the fleas off your dog, declaw your rooster, travel back in time to visit with Annie Oakley, make a duct tape wallet, survive an apocalypse, or even make your own lip balm? Then you should have been at one of our past presentation events! This year, I estimate twenty or more Lee County youth, beginning at age five, will choose a project in horsemanship, crafting, pet care, hospitality, government and citizenship, fishing, or many other options. The point is to choose an enjoyable topic and speak knowledgeably about it. The young people will work with their parents, club leaders, and county representatives to develop and practice a five to twelve-minute presentation. In May, these young people of all ages will gather at the McSwain Center to practice their speeches in front of three volunteer judges. Volunteer judges come from the N.C. Cooperative Extension Advisory Board, community partners, and individuals interested in supporting local youth. The job of our judges is to provide positive feedback to the young people, allowing them to polish their presentation and build confidence for the district competition.

Our 4-H district, South Central, covers 19 counties from Alexander to Cumberland and will host an all-day event in June in Scotland County. On average, ten to fifteen youths from Lee County participate in district competitions, hoping to win their age and category division, allowing them to compete at the state level in July.

Any youth from kindergarten to high school can register for Lee County 4-H and participate in our county presentation event. The competition for the Cloverbud members, aged five to seven, is non-competitive but a great experience that prepares them for future success. Please contact Pam Kerley, the 4-H Program Assistant for North Carolina Cooperative Extension, Lee County Center, to learn more. 4-H is a Positive Youth Development Program offering programs that suit a variety of backgrounds, interests, budgets, and schedules. From in-school to after-school, clubs to camps, 4-H programs are available in Lee County, and we welcome children who want to have fun, learn, and grow. In North Carolina, 4-H is brought to you by the NC State Cooperative Extension. N.C. Cooperative Extension’s experts and educators share university knowledge, information, and tools you can use daily to improve your life.

This article ran in the Sanford Herald on April 13, 2024