Alea Hunsucker believes in doing scary things and overcoming fears.
“Every great poet, scientist, writer, actor, mathematician in the history of time did something they were scared of and thought they wouldn’t succeed at,” she said. “And somehow, for some reason, they did.”
It was the reason she was addressing a large crowd Thursday as the North Carolina 4-H State Council President during the Sampson County 4-H Achievement Banquet.
“That’s why basically our whole country is here today,” she said about the founders who overcame fears. “I would like to encourage you to do the same.”
One of Hunsucker’s first journeys in the 4-H Club was the fashion revue in Davidson County. Sewing was what she knew best.
“To be honest, I wasn’t that good at it,” Hunsucker said to the audience. “Do you have something you enjoy, but you’re not really good at it? That was me.”
But she received support and was encouraged to become involved with public speaking. At the beginning, she was nervous, but she received advice on how to become better and better.
“I was talking about plants, which is something that I really, really love,” she said. “I believe that when anyone is doing anything in 4-H or in life, you should be passionate about it.”
She showed gratitude for people who supported her through 4-H, but sometimes the idea of leadership may come with fear. It almost stopped her from running for state council president. During her opening remarks, Hunsucker said she was proud of the accomplishments of the young 4-H’ers, who overcame fears just like her. Hunsucker has been a member of the Davidson County 4-H for eight years. She puts a lot of focus on horticulture and public speaking projects. Some of her other work includes community service, STEM (Science. Technology, Engineering and Mathematics), and 4-H shooting sports.
“It’s a huge accomplishment to even be here tonight and I promise you I know that 4-H projects are not simple to complete, Hunsucker said.
Amber Lackey, 15, was one of many Sampson County 4-H’ers honored during the special night.
“The best way to describe it would be ‘unreal,’” Lackey said about being acknowledged for her achievements.
Throughout the event, Lackey was called to the stage including the big one — 2016 Senior 4-H’er of the Year. After the recognition, she expressed how she was proud to be a member of 4-H.
“I was a shy little girl that hid behind her mother’s leg and now I’m up here giving presentations, doing interviews and multiple things in 4-H,” she said. “It’s really helped as a person to grow and mature in my age.”
In the future, the home-schooled student would like to attend community college and become familiar with a classroom setting. Next, she plans to attend a four-year university.
Keith Walters, Southeast District Extension director, was one several extension leaders in attendance.
“We’re always excited to recognize youths and the work they do here in Sampson County with 4-H,” Walters said.
He said the organization teaches participants a lot of life skills such as making presentations, judging or record keeping.
“They’ll learn skills that will last them a lifetime such as speaking on their feet, putting together their thoughts and ideas to persuade people to see things their way,” he said.
Sampson County Extension Director Eileen Coite said the extension is always excited to highlight the achievements and accomplishments of young people in the area. Coite enjoyed honoring sponsors who support the 4-H program. She’s also looking forward to future growth under the leadership of 4-H Agent Genny Thompson.
“We’re looking forward to the new directions and growth we’ll have in 4-H,” Coite said.
Many awards were distributed on behalf of the organization by 4-H Program Assistant Elizabeth Merrill. Loralie Bellanger was honored as the 2016 Junior 4-H’er of the Year. United Way and Hog Slat earned Sponsors of the Year recognition. Linda Jewell Carr was honored as the Volunteer of the Year.
The Tip of the Hat award went to Leslie Matthis, Ardith Taylor and Laurie Hamilton for their assistance to the organization.
Every Buddies Kids Club was honored as the Club of the Year. The others recognized for accomplishments included Happy Feet, Cookie Clover Scouts, Hippity Hop Rabbit Club, Majestic Riders, Clinton/Sampson Middle Juntos, Cresemos Juntos (Hobbton) and the 4-H Sewing Group.
Reach Chase Jordan at 910-249-4617. Follow us on Twitter at @SampsonInd and like us on Facebook.