The annual Sampson County 4-H Achievement Banquet was held Monday evening, bringing together 4-H staff, youth, volunteers, sponsors, and supporters, all for the purpose of recognizing local 4-Hers and their impressive achievements over this past year as well as thanking those who help make a variety of opportunities possible for Sampson youth.
Held at the Sampson County Agri-Exposition Center in Heritage Hall, the banquet began at 6 p.m. with Amanda Bradshaw, 4-H Youth Development agent with the Cooperative Extension, welcoming everyone and leading attendees in the Pledge of Allegiance as local VFW members posted the colors. Members of the Bull’s Eye 4-H Club also led in the 4-H pledge.
Sampson County Commissioner Jefferson Strickland came forward, taking the mic to praise Bradshaw and the rest of the 4-H staff for their “enthusiasm” for the work they do with local youth. In fact, according to Bradshaw, 4-H staff worked with approximately 5,400 Sampson youth in some way during this past year.
Strickland also took time to share some of his personal history with 4-H.
“I was a 4-H member back over 60 years ago,” he said to the current 4-Hers, describing his involvement with the program as “a wonderful experience.”
“Many of the skills I’ve developed over the years I can contribute to 4-H,” he attested.
Strickland also recalled that as a 4-Her he attended Camp Millstone in Ellerbe, located between Southern Pines and Rockingham, and spoke of making friendships there that have continued over the years.
“Some of the most pleasant memories of my life were there,” he shared.
After Strickland offered the evening’s invocation, attendees enjoyed a catered dinner by Teresa Eillis and Laura Goodrich with Simply Southern Caterering which was served by local 4-Hers involved in Youth Leadership.
Following dinner, Brandshaw introduced the evening’s special guests which, in addition to Strickland, included Tate and Jackie Pope with Farm Bureau; Summer Lanier with Prestage Farms; Dixie Jordan-Coates, a former 4-H public affairs coordinator, and her husband Tommy, now volunteers; Dr. Sandy Maddox, a 4-H volunteer and Advisory Board member as well as a professor in Ag Education at Mt. Olive College; Iris Lucas, a former 4-H program assistant; Mac and Lila Maxwell, 4-H volunteers; Craven and Eloise Register, 4-H volunteers; Eileen Coite, Sampson County Extension Director; and Ardith Taylor, Sampson County Extension Administrative Assistant.
During the banquet, a slew of impressive awards were given to sponsors, supporters, volunteers, and, of course, 4-Hers, marking achievements, service, and support from October 2012 to September 2013.
The 4-H staff named Tim Clifton with Big Blue as its sponsor of the year — Big Blue sponsored both the 4-H goat show and community agriculture day this year.
The 4-H “Tip of the Hat” awards were presented to Jeff Swartz with Clinton City Schools and Lauren Williams with The Sampson Independent for their support of the 4-H program during the past year.
Special thanks was also paid to the United Way of Sampson County for its continued support.
George Edwards, who teaches the art of wood burning to 4-Hers, was among those recognized as a volunteer of the year. Bradshaw described Edwards, who was also her former high school FFA teacher, as “always such a kind, sweet spirit” and thanked him for bringing his unique artistic talent to the 4-H program and sharing it will local youth.
Kim Lackey also received a volunteer of the year award. “We depend on them (volunteers) to be the hands, legs, and feet of 4-H,” noted Brandshaw, praising Lackey for how much she does for Sampson’s 4-H program. “She eats, lives, breathes, and bleeds 4-H green.”
Every year 4-H staff also chooses one of its chartered clubs to be the club of the year. This year, the Silver Cats 4-H Club received the distinguished honor which includes having their club’s name featured on a plaque in the Extension office as well as winning an ice cream party.
“They have taken on many community service projects,” shared Bradshaw. “They try to make our community better and that’s what we are after.”
Another high honor bestowed during the banquet is the 4-Hers of the Year/Ambassadors of 4-H awards which, Bradshaw explained, is not decided on by 4-H staff. Instead, interested youth complete applications which are reviewed by members of the 4-H Advisory Board who make the final decisions. This year, Kerry Hall received the junior award and Carlie Piercy received the senior award.
Achievement award were presented as well to 4-Hers who “go above and beyond club work,” explained Bradshaw.
Cloverbud achievement awards went to Victorya Arroyo, Marissa Cortez, Isabelle Leyva, Elisabeth Arroyo, and Sequoyah Davis while Kaya Kusmierczuk , Karol Kusmierczuk, Kendall Lanier, and Micah Platania earned their green-level achievement awards.
Older youth C.P. Davis, Esteban Davis, and Amber Lackey received their silver achievement awards, and senior 4-Her Carlie Piercy earned the top achievement award, a first for a Sampson youth.
Many other 4-Hers were also recognized for their achievements throughout the year including project books and state fair wins. Look for photos of these 4-Hers and their awards in future editions of The Sampson Independent.
To conclude the banquet, 4-H staff, fighting back tears, gave special recognition to Ardith Taylor, Sampson County Extension Administrative Assistant, for her 15 years of service with the Extension, giving her a big group hug and presenting her with a desk name plate and her first business cards.
For more information about Sampson County’s 4-H Program, please contact Amanda Bradshaw at the Cooperative Extension Office at 910-592-7161 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Lauren Williams can be reached at 910-592-8137, ext. 117 or via email at email@example.com.