What an incredible, exhausting, exhilarating week!
We made a list and we checked it twice. (Or maybe 12 or 13 times.)
We added names and we tried not to get our hopes up.
After all, not everyone can finish a 4-H portfolio.
A 4-H portfolio details all the project work, project sharing and helping, community service, leadership, and other activities a youth has completed in the previous calendar year.
Last year, 13 seventh through twelfth graders completed portfolios and projects to compete at 4-H District Project Achievement. We won for highest percentage increase.
As our list grew of potential competitors - past 13, past 15, knocking on 20 - we tried to contain our excitement.
But who knew what might happen before the January due date?
Sometimes people get nervous; other times they just don't finish.
The last three days have been a blur.
A steady stream of 4-H'ers have been in and out of the office, making last-minute corrections or searching for one more photo.
As each name was checked off, I was almost afraid to count again.
The deadline arrived, and (insert drumroll here) 23 youth completed portfolios!
Each portfolio contains two detailed resume-style pages of accomplishments, but I'd like to highlight an item or two from each portfolio. This week, I'm highlighting those in the seventh and eighth grades.
Kayla Gartner, a seventh grader at Liberty Middle, is competing in the arts project.
She uses her crafting skills to assist with 4-H events including the Good Ol' Fashioned Fun Day we hosted on the square last summer, where she painted faces.
Seventh-grader Jacob Dibble, of the Georgia Cyber Academy, chose the food for health and sport project because "for the past 100 years, my family has loved the delicious and nutritious invention of peanut butter," he reports.
He has been learning about the Body Mass Index and also serves as a helper for the Catholic Blue Knights Boys Club.
AJ McAuliffe, an eighth grader at Cousins Middle, loves science and inventing new things, so he will compete in the physical, biological and earth science project.
This year, he created an irrigation system for people with disabilities and also served as a teen leader for 105 hours of messy science.
Seventh-grader Jada Biggs of Liberty Middle enjoys cooking and will compete in the dairy foods project.
Her cooking classes include a Japanese cooking class and the cooking club, and she is a member of the Fit Fast Club.
Seventh-grader Audrey Holder, a home school student, will share her love of bananas in the fruits, nuts and vegetables project.
She volunteers with 4-H, First Baptist Church, Cub Scouts, and in her neighborhood.
Cyann Owes, a seventh grader at Indian Creek Middle, is in the entomology project.
She has earned many environmental or nature related Girl Scout badges, and painted a school with Hands on Atlanta this year.
Eighth-grader Kara Gartner of Liberty Middle is sharing her interest in electromagnetism in the power and energy project.
Kara's science fair project is also on electromagnetism this year, and she volunteered for many service projects this year including Rivers Alive and the Literacy Festival.
Eighth-grader Kacie Gartner of Liberty Middle is in the public speaking project.
She is on the Helen Ruffin Reading Bowl team and enjoys volunteering in her school library and helping teachers after school.
Patrick Dibble, an eighth-grade student in the Georgia Cyber Academy, chose the history project because he enjoys learning about human history.
His family was one of nine that delivered goodies from 4-H'ers to firemen working on Christmas Day, and he is a member of the Leadership Peer Club at GCA.
MaKenzy McCord, an eighth-grade home school student, is using her five years of BB team experience in the target sports project.
She is also currently serving on the Northwest District Junior Board of Directors and will help lead the district competition.
Seventh-grade home school student TJ McCaustland has been studying extensively on the atomic and subatomic world for his power and energy project.
He spent more than 500 hours this year visiting and assisting with the elderly and people with disabilities.
Next week: 12 high school portfolios!
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.