Connections 2017

Goldsboro News Argus - Progress Edition

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16 D ay in and day out, 23-year-old Marisa Linton stands up in front of students in her college courses she teaches at Campbell University and Wilson Community College and delivers countless lectures. She incorporates activities she's learned throughout the years into the courses she teaches. Without 4-H, she might not be able to do either of those things. Linton credits 4-H with her success as a pro- fessor –– she said it aided her in developing public speaking skills and taught her many things other lessons she might not have other- wise learned. "It taught me a lot about discipline, and I learned a lot of knowledge that's really helped me," Linton said. Former members of Wayne County's 4-H pro- gram and Future Farmers of America pro- grams alike each said the organizations — and the things they learned and experienced through them — helped them in positive ways that are hard to describe. "It's so much more than what people think, and I am an advocate for it, whether you're young or old, it is a wonderful program that has a lot more to offer than people think," said Melissa McClure, who joined 4-H when she was 13 years old. Elizabeth Merrill spent more than a decade in Wayne County's 4-H program. She is now the Program Assistant for Sampson County's 4-H program. Merrill said she was inspired by her own experience in the program when she was grow- ing up, so she went back and took a position that allows her to give back to the program that helped make her who she is. "To describe what 4-H has done for me is almost impossible," Merrill said. "It's not that I can't describe it, it's that you can't put it into words." Samantha Byrd, president of the University of Mount Olive's Collegiate FFA chapter, said her experience with FFA in high school and things she now actively participates in are invaluable to her. "I'm hoping to become a high school agricul- ture teacher, and I would say that FFA really brought me out of my shell in high school and helped me talk to more people and make more friends and learn a whole lot more than I thought," Byrd said. "Now in college I'm able to back more of it up with more knowledge about things I can teach to others one day." A common theme between the two programs is that both expose adolescents to various com- petitions at the state and national levels. Byrd said while she was in high school, she competed in forestry, livestock competitions and more. "It became one of my favorite things," Byrd said. "I tried to do as many (competitions) as possible." In 4-H also, there are numerous competi- tions, including public speaking competitions and livestock com- petitions, too. Linton said she competed in livestock judging and livestock quiz bowl competitions, and showed livestock all the way up to the state and national levels. Through these competitions, skills are honed and a competi- tive spirit to strive to succeed is instilled in par- ticipants. Byrd said collegiate FFA and high school FFA programs are quite different. Sandy Maddox, director of the Lois G. Britt Agribusiness Center at the University of Mount Olive, said the same. In high school, Byrd said, FFA focuses more on competitions, getting to know people, learn- ing to do more things in the agricultural indus- try and developing yourself. She said that at the collegiate level the pro- gram focuses in on service work; developing professional relationships that can lead to careers in the agricultural industry. "This is a continuation of the leadership training and opportunities that FFA provides at the high school level," Maddox said. "I can't say enough about the difference that FFA makes in the students that I see coming out of high schools that have strong FFA programs — their leadership skills, their work ethic, their ability to speak to people, just their whole being is improved. You can just see the difference in the way they interact with people." In these regards, 4-H and FFA share a com- mon theme — they both prepare adolescents A Future Farmers of America luncheon held at the University of Mount Olive brings many view points together from current professionals, community members and students of agriculture in an effort to design and facilitate methods of production and management for future farmers and their families. Samantha Byrd delivers a speech during a Future Farmers of America lunch meeting at the Univer- sity of Mount Olive. Future of AGRICULTURE: FHA and 4-H Programs such as 4-H and the Future Farmers of America help usher in a new era of an agriculture-geared generation. The programs also instill work ethic and leadership skills. See FUTURE, Page 17 Story by ETHAN SMITH Photos by SETH COMBS

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