, Muskogee, OK

October 18, 2013

4-H members learn to be leaders

Youth in Action Conference draws 283 kids

By Cathy Spaulding
Phoenix Staff Writer

— GORE — Hula hoops and a twine web can help Northeast Oklahoma 4-H Club members be leaders in their clubs.

The hoops and web show how it takes teamwork to get things done, said Melanie Taylor, McIntosh County 4-H and Family/Consumer Science educator for McIntosh County.

Teamwork is one of several leadership qualities 4-H members learn each fall at the annual Youth in Action Conference.

“It teaches them to be good leaders back at their schools and learn life skills,” said Northeast District 4-H Program Specialist Nancy Arnett  “Most of these kids are going to be leaders in the local level. Some will be district officers. Some will go on to be state officers or state ambassadors.”

The most recent conference, held this week at Fin and Feather Resort, attracted 283 4-H Club members from 19 counties, Arnett said. 4-H’ers participated in a variety of workshops, including character building, job skills, drug abuse awareness and how to be a good club officer.

Billy Hammans of Warner said he likes being able to meet new people. He was one of 39 youths from Muskogee County at the conference.

“I learned about going up and greeting people and being comfortable talking to people you don’t know, public speaking,” Billy said.

Hannah Bolding of Hilldale said she likes “learning what our 4-H story is and how to share it, how to be leaders in community.”

Hannah took a workshop in being a 4-H ambassador and participated in a quiz bowl about 4-H.

So where do the hula hoops and twine webs come in?

In the teamwork session, Taylor challenged participants to find ways to pass through the twine web. Three teams were timed and judged on their success. Kids had no problem getting through the low parts of the web. Some didn’t need any help or encouragement. However, those passing through upper holes often had to be held by teammates and passed through the holes to other teammates.

Taylor instructed participants to talk each other through the web.

Later, Taylor’s teams gathered in circles, held hands and tried to get a hula hoop around the circle without breaking the link.

Samantha Pearce of Porum helped her teammates do both.

“There’s a lot of learning about teamwork and making new friends,” Samantha said.

In addition to the teamwork challenges, Samantha participated in a job readiness workshop.

“They explained how to fill out applications and resumes,” she said. “Now I will start doing 4-H contests on how to fill out resumes. This was good practice.”

Taylor said the conference also focused on character building. A Change for Change carnival held on the opening night encouraged participants to collect money for the Children’s Hospital Foundation.

Arnett said the conferences have been held for at least 30 years.

Reach Cathy Spaulding at (918) 684-2928 or