A seventh-grader stood on stage Friday night. He nervously looked at his note cards as nearly 400 pairs of eyes looked on.
He tried to start his speech, and faltered.
Kids shifted in their seats; how long would middle school students be patient on a Friday night?
Another false start and I thought I heard a small snicker in the audience.
And then, overwhelming applause and cheering.
A transformation took over the young man as the applause turned into confidence, and he bravely delivered his campaign speech for Northwest District 4-H District Board.
But I was most proud in that moment of the hundreds of young teens and preteens who cheered him on rather than jeering.
What a difference such a small act can make.
A weekend at District 4-H Project Achievement is full of those little moments.
Twenty-one youths from Newton County presented projects this weekend ranging from cockroaches to food safety.
Half the hard work was finished two months ago when they each completed a portfolio of their year’s work.
The other half was completed Saturday morning when they each presented a demonstration or performance.
Four youths won first in senior-level projects, earning a trip to State 4-H Congress this July.
They are Flannery Peay, Will Holder, Ken Galloway and Cati Aevaliotis.
Flannery Peay, a 10th grade home school student, presented a demonstration on pointe shoes in the general recreation project.
Cati Aevaliotis, a senior at Alcovy High, talked of dehydrated apples for food safety and preservation.
We also had three youths run for district board, like the young man in the earlier story. They presented campaign speeches on stage and have been running around Rock Eagle in costumes trying to gain the most votes.
MaKenzy McCord, a home school eighth grader, was elected to the board during DPA last year and finished her term this weekend. She also finished second in the target sports project with a demonstration on 4-H Project Safe BB teams.
Liberty Middle seventh-grader Jada Biggs earned first in the dairy foods project with skillet macaroni and vegetables and Liz Simpson, a junior at Eastside High, prepared bison sliders in the festive foods project.
Power and energy winners included first place finisher TJ McCaustland, a seventh grade home school student with a project on atomic energy, and second place winner Kara Gartner, a Liberty Middle eighth grader with a project on electromagnetism.
Seventh grade home school student Jacob Dibble won second with his demonstration on the benefits of peanut butter in food for health and sport.
Patrick Dibble, an eighth grade home school student, presented his project on Viking history.
Eleventh grade Newton High student Bradford Porter competed with a project on newspaper production in the communications project.
Another junior at Eastside, Michelle Lewis, earned third place with her discussion on wind turbines in conservation of natural resources.
Cockroaches were the topic of Cyann Owes, a seventh grader at Indian Creek, who won third in the entomology project.
Audrey Holder, a home school seventh grader, discussed the benefits of bananas in fruits, nuts and vegetables, finished with a first place ribbon.
Kacie Gartner, a Liberty Middle seventh grader, competed in public speaking.
Junior Anna Simpson of Eastside discussed her experiences in Cambodia in the international project, earning fourth place.
Kyra Huger, an 11th grader at Newton High, and Mallori Johnson, a freshman at Eastside High competed in general recreation. Their projects were on high-stepping marching bands and tap dancing, respectively.
Mary Lathem, a senior at Eastside High, also attended as a teen leader and Master 4-H’er. She won general recreation at the state level three years ago.
Terri Kimble is the Newton County 4-H Agent through UGA Cooperative Extension. She can be reached at 770-784-2010. or firstname.lastname@example.org.