Extension leaders applauded dozens of young achievers at the annual 4-H Awards Banquet on April 26 at First Baptist Church of Thomson.
"I really appreciate what parents do to get their children to 4-H and to participate," said Rick Smith, who directs the McDuffie County Extension Office.
Smith said the staff rushed to assemble the annual program, although the office had been without a full-time 4-H coordinator most of the year. 4-H Assistant Lindy Ferrell, just three weeks into her new position, worked with office manager April Reese, home health and nutrition specialist Caroline Richardson and Smith to schedule an abbreviated program.
"I really feel blessed with the staff that I have to work with," Smith said.
Smith said the staff felt strongly that 4-H'ers must be recognized.
"These are our future leaders," Smith said. "These are the kids who are doing extra."
Smith discussed awards as Ferrell handed out certificates. Most of the awards were for Cloverleaf District Project Achievement.
"This is for schoolwork," Smith said. "Why in the world would they want to do it?"
The projects combine research, writing and presentation skills.
The Junior/Senior District Project Achievement Awards recognize teenagers involved in those research projects.
Cloverleaf District Project Achievement Teen Leader Awards recognize young people who assist 4-H agents. "It's a learning experience for the teenager," Smith said. "It's an invaluable assistance to the adult."
Finally, two students received awards for being voting delegates to the 4-H State Council. Participants gain experience in a process that mirrors the election and representative government process.
Award winner Wachovia Jones, who has been in 4-H for eight years, said she enjoyed state council because "I'm interested to learn more about people." She said she has not decided on a career, but it "definitely will involve helping children."
Jones is a junior at Thomson High School.
The other winner, Mercedes Huff, could not be present.
Richardson said many of today's leaders are former 4-H'ers, and she said the young award winners are "a good example of keeping that tradition."
Richardson introduced civic, education and government leaders who were guests at the banquet.
County Commission Chairman Charlie Newton Jr. accepted the invitation to promote Mission: McDuffie, which will mark its 10th year June 6-9. He said that last year's home fix-up campaign was the biggest yet but that there were more helpers than projects. He invited any homeowner who needs painting or similar small-project assistance to apply. Also, young people who lack the $20 enrollment fee might receive scholarship assistance. "So please don't let money be a barrier if you would like to outreach to someone," he said.
Anyone seeking more information may call (706) 595-4252 or visit www.missionmcduffie.com.
Cloverleaf District Project Achievement: Smith Adams, Kyla Annis, Lacee Bartkus, Shakivia Battle, Danielle Bentley, Brianna Brantley, Jada Bridges, Joshua Brooks, Auvia Carter, Camille Clark, Da'Von Crockett, Samuel Derry, Shelby Ewest, Paris Franklin, Rebecca Herrera, Anteca Hill, Jayla Hill, Kwionda Kendrick, Mikel Kendrick, Shania Kendrick, Kate Larkey, Jayla Mathis, Jackson Matthews, Veronica Moore, Audrey Myers, Asher Powell, Christin Reese, Vyom Shah, Ray Sutton III, Mercedes Tucker, Callan Whittle, Kallan Whittle and Morgan Workman.
Junior/Senior District Project Achievement: Abbi Findley, Aaliyah Ivery and De'Asia Moon.
Cloverleaf District Project Achievement Teen Leaders: Abbi Findley, Mercedes Huff, Aaliyah Ivery, Wachovia Jones and De'Asia Moon.
State Council Voting Delegates: Mercedes Huff and Wachovia Jones.