2018 Fair Queen and Princess Discuss Value of 4-H

By Will Johnson
Messenger Reporter

HOUSTON COUNTY – With nearly six million participants, this organization is one of the largest in the United States. Its membership includes 1.8 million urban youth, 1.6 million suburban youth and 2.6 million rural youth.

So, what is this organization? It’s 4-H and its membership continues to grow on a daily basis.

According to the 4-H website, “In 4‑H, we believe in the power of young people. We see that every child has valuable strengths and real influence to improve the world around us. We are America’s largest youth development organization—empowering nearly six million young people across the U.S. with the skills to lead for a lifetime.”

The website states 4-H programs are delivered by Cooperative Extension “… a community of more than 100 public universities across the nation that provides experiences where young people learn by doing. Kids complete hands-on projects in areas like health, science, agriculture and citizenship, in a positive environment where they receive guidance from adult mentors and are encouraged to take on proactive leadership roles.”

As the 2018 Houston County Fair and Youth Livestock Show wraps up its week long run at the Porth Ag Arena and Crockett Civic Center, it should be noted that over 10 Grand and Reserve Champions came from the 4-H clubs within the county.

In fact, both the 2018 Fair Queen – 16-year-old Samantha Sheppard – and the 2018 Fair Princess – 13-year-old Sofia Ice – are members of 4-H. Samantha is a member of the Homestead 4-H Club while Sofia is a member of the Lovelady 4-H Club.

Sofia, a seventh grader at Lovelady Jr. High said she got involved with 4-H when she and her family first moved into the area.

“We wanted to show animals and do something really fun in the community and 4-H was a part of that,” she said.

“I got involved with 4-H, shortly after we moved here as well,” Samantha said. “I had started volunteering at South Pines Vet Clinic and one of the ladies who came in there talked about a meeting she was trying to set up. I went to a couple of meetings and became really interested in it.”

As far as what she has learned about 4-H, Sofia expressed it really helps the community to bond.

“I learned that a lot of people involved with 4-H are involved with a lot of other things. It’s not just being involved with the fair. You be can be involved with many different things like food workshops,” she said.

Samantha added 4-H covers everything from home and garden projects to “… pretty much any animal you can think of. There are miscellaneous classes you can take that cover horses, cows, goats, lambs, woodworking and baked goods. There is such a large variety, I don’t think I could choose a favorite.”

“I’ve done a lot of things in 4-H,” Sofia added, “but I think I enjoyed showing my pig the most. This is my second year for showing.”

Both the queen and princess said they would like to stick with 4-H as long as possible and added one of the nice things about the organization is it brings all different types of people together, where they work as one to achieve a goal or complete a project.

“Bringing people together is a big part of 4-H,” the queen said. “It really is an amazing program. It gives kids a lot of opportunities.”

One other area the princess mentioned was money management.

“It teaches kids responsibility and save for college. In a lot of places kids don’t even think about it but here, this animal could help pay for college or go towards purchasing a new animal. Many kids don’t learn the responsibility of taking care of an animal, but here you bond with the animal, take care of it and really bond with it,” Sofia said.

As the conversation concluded both the queen and princess expressed their appreciation to Patricia Lucas for helping them with royal duties and also gave a very big thank you to their parents.

Will Johnson may be contacted via e-mail at wjohnson@messenger-news.com.