October is the 4-H organization's 100th year in Arkansas and Fulton County 4-Hers celebrated in a big way.
Oct. 7 4-H members of every age, their club leaders and parents, gathered at the Hickinbotham-Miller Building on the Fulton County Fairgrounds for their annual awards banquet.
The 4-Hers displayed their talents by speaking to and leading the crowd in the ceremony and even providing some musical entertainment.
Over 50 awards were presented to the county's finest for a variety of skills acquired through 4-H such as crop and seed identification, livestock judging, and even public speaking, bicycling and dancing.
Six special awards based on achievements earned throughout the entire year were presented. Patsy Collins was recognized as the leader of the year for her work with the Camp 4-H Club. Amy Abney and Tina Hall were recognized as the rookie leaders of the year for their work with the Kountry Kids 4-H Club. The Bright Future 4-H Club was recognized as the overall club of the year. Noble and Carolyn Lewis were deemed the 4-H volunteers of the year, and the Bank of Salem was thanked for their constant monetary help in 4-H activities and were recognized as friends of 4-H.
The top prize of the night went to Carson York, who was declared the county's 4-H member of the year.
Melissa McCandlis, leader of the Loyal Longhorns 4-H Club in Viola who has a long history of 4-H involvement, spoke to the crowd regarding the benefits of being involved in the organization. "This (4-H) isn't just about farming. It helps kids better themselves," McCandlis said.
She said her involvement in 4-H provided numerous opportunities for her while growing up such as traveling around the country and even traveling overseas and living as a foreign exchange student for three weeks. "Their are so many advantages and scholarship opportunities that can help you as you get older," McCandlis said.
Family and Consumer Science Staff Chair Malinda Coffman agreed. "As the largest youth organization in the nation, 4-H allows kids to experience things they might not otherwise have the opportunity to experience," she said.
The original 4-H grew out of a progressive educational movement in rural communities during the late 1800s and early 1900s.
This movement generated interest among rural school principals and superintendents who wanted to apply practical concepts to the reading, writing and arithmetic, according to the University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture Web site.
From this humble beginning of striving for the practical applications of academic concepts, 4-H has "developed into a worldwide youth movement," according to the Web site.
Today, 4-H is continually growing. Based on its mission to, "provide opportunities for youth to acquire knowledge, develop life skills, form attitudes and practice behavior that will enable them to become self directing, productive and contributing members of society," the organization provides the opportunity for members to select from numerous activities in 82 project areas ranging from farming to automotive to clothing design.
Coffman said because 4-H has tremendous support within Fulton County, the area's membership is growing, and "that is a good sign for the future of the county."