A group of local youths represented Sampson County during the annual 4-H Congress competition at N.C. State University in Raleigh. They were proud to bring home some medals too.
More than 500 participants and youth leaders attended the event, held July 29 through Aug. 1. Some of the activities included presentations on subjects, leadership, citizenship training, service opportunities and officer elections.
The local 4-H program is coordinated through Sampson County Cooperative Extension. Statewide, 4-H is the largest youth development organization and has about 247,000 members each year. Genny Thompson, extension agent and 4-H leader, enjoyed the congress.
“It was fabulous,” Thompson said. “It was such a great experience.”
Amber Lackey and Kaya Kusmierczuk received bronze awards for public speaking during the event.
“I’m really proud of them and I know that they put a lot of hard work into it,” Thompson said. “There was a lot of preparation.”
Thompson encourages youths such as Lackey and Kusmierczuk to become involved in 4-H for various opportunities, especially when it comes to presenting.
“We’re teaching these kids how to publicly speak and how to speak in front of a crowd,” she said. “It’s gives them a confidence level that they may not have.”
She expressed how Lackey, who ranked high in the senior division, improved her presentation skills and have no problem speaking in front of large crowds.
“Amber is an exceptional public speaker,” Thompson said. “She is very good.”
Kusmierczuk competed in the 4-H Junior Division and to qualify, she competed and won at the Sampson and District 4-H competitions.
“You have to practice a lot to get everything right,” Kusmierczuk said.
Her brother Karol Kusmierczuk also attended the event. They are the children of Agata and Krzyszt Kusmierczuk, who stated that they are proud of their accomplishments.
Kaya Kusmierczuk, a student from Sampson Early College High School, was happy to earn a gold medal for her public speaking. Her words focused on fossil fuels and their impact on the environment.
“Eventually we’ll run out of the fossil fuels and we need to power different things,” she said. “We need to find alternate energy sources and it’s also damaging to our environment.”
Supporters said the program helped them develop skills they can use every day through participation in various 4-H clubs. During the summer, they participated in workshops focusing on careers in agriculture, cupcake competitions and the Kids in the Kitchen program.
“There’s so many clubs,” Kusmierczuk said. “Even if you’re not into one thing, you’ll find a club that suits you.”
The other students who attended the 4-H Congress are Marianna Sada-Romero, Taylor Blanchard and James Carr. Thompson said they were a great group of students.
“This is my first experience at Congress and these kids were phenomenal,” Thompson said. “I couldn’t ask for a better group.”