Roughly 220 Sampson County 4-H’ers and community members who stand behind their endeavors gathered to celebrate “yesterday’s” heritage, “today’s” accomplishments and “tomorrow’s” vision for the future during the “We Are 4-H” centennial award celebration.
Before Corporate Extension 4-H agent DeLeon Wilks recognized the individual 4-H’ers, leaders, volunteers, clubs and corporate sponsors for 2008, he carried the crowd back in time, specifically to 1909, when, as a response to the dawn of new agricultural technology, states elected to improve farming techniques by teaching the local children in hopes that adults would be receptive.
As worded on Green N’ Growing, a timeline of 4-H, “North Carolina College of Agriculture and Mechanic Arts (later North Carolina State University) signed an agreement with the U.S. Department of Agriculture to develop corn clubs and demonstration programs.”
By 1910, more than 4,000 young boys and a handful of girls joined North Carolina agricultural clubs, in which their farming and homemaking skills were refined.
During the same year, the corn club for boys expanded to welcome independent poultry, livestock and pig clubs. Also within a few years of this conversion, the present 4-H clover logo, standing for heart, head, hands, and health, was officially adopted.
However, it was not just the boys who were exploring different agricultural areas in that day , according to a history of the 4-H program.
The innovating spirits of the nearly 3,000 girls in the home demonstration clubs, blossomed from merely the ideal cooking and sewing lessons to tomato canning, food preservation and fashion.
Five years later, Sampson County was perusing a historical revolution, under the guidance of G.W. Herring, as the first African-American boys club was constituted.
“What I take this to mean,” Wilks announced, “is that one of the first black clubs in North Carolina was started right here in Sampson County.”
In 1917, the first African American girls club was established.
Around the same time as the formation of the first African American club in North Carolina, congress passed the Smith-Lever Act.
“This legislation established a partnership between land-grant universities and the Department of Agriculture for conducting agricultural extension work in the states. It specifically included work with boys clubs and Home Demonstration,” as authored on Green N’ Growing.
In 1915, North Carolina College of Agriculture and Mechanic Arts hosted the first statewide Short Course for the white agricultural clubs, where attendees included 222 boys and 1 girl but it would not be until 1926 when North Carolina A&T State University hosted one for the African American club members.
However, while a lapse of 10 years separated the black and white club members from obtaining the “college experience,” nationally all were united as one under the official title of 4-H.
According to the timeline, during both world wars, the 4-H members were able to meet the needs of a nation, as well as the community, through the production of victory gardens.
Another monumental moment in 4-H history came during the era of civil rights, when in 1965 the once separate African American and white camps were integrated into one camping system; however, segregation still lingered as the youngsters arrived at camp on different buses.
Even though the campers were separated in the community, in the camp they came together, which only shows the power instilled within 4-H, officials noted.
As time progressed, what started with youngsters in a corn field has grown into a synopses for successes as local young “pledge their head for clearer thinking, hearts for loyalty, hands for service and health for better living.”
Once the audience returned to present time Tuesday night, youth and adults were recognized for “today’s” accomplishments, in other words, the 2008 award distribution.
“During 2008, over 500 leaders and volunteers of the Sampson County 4-H program helped our office deliver over 14,500 learning experiences to over 2,700 county youth,” Wilks recited from a projection slide.
In order to furnish thousands of learning experiences, the 4-H’ers must be a member of a club; therefore the clubs, as an entity, were pinpointed first.
Among the clubs were: Avenue Ranchers, Bookworms, Creative Hands, Hearts, Minds, Dixie Clovers, Dynamite 4-H’ers, Foxmoore Farm, Happy Feet, At Large, Hilltoppers, Homerunners (who were also the overall outstanding club for 2008), Lion Heart, Moo and Ewes, Sampson County Saddle Club, Sampson County Teen Court and Upward Bound, all of which have exemplified outstanding involvement in 4-H activities.
Agent Bob Turner, with Teen Court, a program that gives youth a chance to get back on the right track, took the podium, presenting the next two individuals with their awards.
“To say he is an over-achiever would be a gross understatement,” Turner began about the outstanding Teen Court youth volunteer recipient Steven Lindquist. Turner then added, “He is so humble that most kids do not realize how hard he works.”
The second recipient, Linda Copeland, was identified as an outstanding restitution officer for 2008.
“She is one of the most humble people, and she always makes sure the kids are safe and secure as they perform community service. If I didn’t have her, then I don’t know if restitution could run as smoothly as it does,” Turner concluded of Copeland.
Sampson County Farm Bureau and the Coastal Plains Chapter of the national Wild Turkey Federation were then acknowledged for their outstanding corporate sponsorships through the 2008 year.
Anne Bass, Sheri Cole-Smith, Kim Piercy and Jan Usher were among the volunteers and leaders to be honored for their dedication. “What we do is possible because of you,” officials stressed.
Along with the clubs as a whole, Marina Schulte and Samantha Naylor were brought to the stage for their outstanding performances in the horse and livestock programs, as well as, outstanding 4-H youth volunteer Kristen Barnhill.
Deidre Arndt, Kaelyn Newton, John Langley and Chase Piercy also were presented with awards for being either 4-H seniors or outstanding 4-H’ers in general.
Finally, the group that Wilks voiced as the ‘Top 15 4-H’ers, took the stage. These youth were: Quinton Butler, Destini Cottle, Alyssa Lee, Jake Lee, Kimberly Morris, Kristen Mott, Austin Mott, Alexander Peterson, Zachary Peterson, Carlie Piercy, Claire Teachy, Chandler Smith, Kimberly Morris, Hailey Usher, Nicholas Usher, Heather Goodrich and Sarah Herring.
Cooperative Extension director Kent Wooten was the last to take the stage to announce the future vision for tomorrow, “farmland protection.”
Wooten presented a survey for non-agricultural producing adults, that will remain strictly confidential, in order to gather feedback from the community on the future Base Realignment and Closer Act.
“We want to protect what we already have in this county ... Help us protect our way of life in Sampson County.”
For more information on 4-H or this survey, please contact the Corporate Extension office at (910) 592-7161.
Jessica Wagner can be contacted at (910) 592-8137 ext.122 or reached by email at email@example.com