Sampson County 4-H members from several clubs recently attended N.C. 4-H Congress in Raleigh and were honored for their contributions.
During the statewide convention for 4-H, Taylor Blanchard, Peyton Matthis, James Carr and Amber Lackey represented Sampson County and participated in the event along with more than 500 youths. Along with adults leaders, the 4-H’ers made presentations on different subjects, leadership, citizenship training and service opportunities.
Lackey was inducted into the N.C. 4-H Honor Club, one of the highest honors in the organization. She’s the first Sampson County 4-H’er in 10 years to reach the achievement.
“I feel like it’s one of the biggest 4-H accomplishments that I’ve done so far,” Lackey said about being one of the chosen few. “You have to work very hard and diligently to achieve it.”
New members were tapped during a candlelight ceremony on Saturday, July 21.
“I was a little in disbelief,” she said. “I didn’t think it was actually happening until later. It was a very important moment and I was very happy with how it went. I just didn’t believe it at first.”
Membership is based on service, leadership, moral standards, involvement in activities and project achievement. According the 4-H officials, less than one-half of 1 percent of participants throughout North Carolina are selected. To join, members must be at least 16 and have a minimum of three years of 4-H experience.
“We are very proud of Amber,” said Genny Thompson, extension agent for 4-H Youth Development. “She has been a dedicated 4-H member for years and this is a great accomplishment.”
The 17-year-old and high school junior is the daughter of Lantz and Kimberly Lackey of Clinton. She has been active in Sampson County for nine years and is a member of the Cookie Clover Scouts and Hippity Hop 4-H Rabbit clubs. During the Sampson County Banquet for the 4-H program, she was honored with the highest achievement in the county with the Achievement Medal and by being named 4-H’er of the Year.
“Four-H has impacted my life in a tremendous way by helping me break out of my comfort zone and exposing me to new ideas and concepts,” she said. “I have to thank Four-H for everything that I’ve been able to achieve this far.”
Her mother Kimberly Lackey was also proud of the moment.
“Not many children get the opportunity to get inducted into the Honor Club,” she said about her daughter’s hard work over the years, which began at the age of 8. “We’re just overwhelmed and very proud.”
Lackey also participated in the AIRE (Application, Interview, Resume and Essay) competition, a four-step process where youths are selected to attend national 4-H events including National Congress, National Conference and International Leadership Conference. Through this program, participants are able to build on their communication and job interview skills, write a prompted essay and fill out an application with a resume that must be submitted by May of the current year. They are then interviewed by a panel of four to five judges at the annual Congress event about their interests, local and national issues, and their 4-H career.
During the event, Sampson County youths participated in team building workshops. Some had the opportunity to attend workshops that were held in the Outdoor Educational Forest at North Carolina State University (NCSU) and learn about the Forestry industry in North Carolina, while others toured the Poultry Unit on NCSU and learned about the poultry industry and how chickens and turkeys are raised on large scale. Other events included a Talent Showcase displaying talents by 4-H members from all across the state, motivational speakers, and state and district officer inductions.
The 4-H program is the state’s largest youth development organization, equipping more than 247,000 young people each year with the skills to succeed and improve the world around them. Programs and camps encourage young people to “learn by doing,” helping them to develop into active, contributing citizens.
NCSU Extension and the Cooperative Extension Program at N.C. A&T State University coordinate 4-H programs statewide.