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Carter County’s 4-H program set to host numerous events

BY TY BUTLER
STAR CORRESPONDENT
The COVID-19 pandemic has robbed many Americans from their hobbies and essential activities, disrupting balance in everyone’s lives. And while many solely focus on the disturbance it has brought upon adults, very few consider how it has impacted our youth — schools had been closed and kids of all ages quickly lost access to fun and entertaining activities, as classroom time had been swapped with webcam lectures and our youth had been locked behind the doors of our homes.
Thankfully, Carter County’s 4-H program has stepped up to the plate, providing those same kids with a new opportunity to fill the void that COVID had left, while also following strict guidelines to ensure health and safety. Starting in February, the 4-H program will throw numerous events in pursuit of giving our local youth activities and opportunities that had once been taken away.
From February 1-5, 4-H will host a Healthy Habits Camp from home, allowing kids and teens from Kindergarten to 12th grade a chance to hone in on their cooking skills. Participants will partake in a four week at home camp and learn cooking basics, from hygiene etiquette and food science to tasty ingredients and precise measurements. Members will pick up a weekly bag from the program’s porch, located in downtown Elizabethton, containing materials and directions to assist the participants in their journey to better cooking. Students will then take the bag home and work on the project with parents and siblings.
4-H’s Youth Development Coordinator Emily Barton detailed the event, saying “In a normal year, we would do this as an in-person activity, but at this point with COVID, we cannot do cooking lessons in person. This is going to allow those students to explore specifics in food science and cooking hygiene from home, safely.”
4-H will also host a Public Speaking Contest for 4th to 8th graders. Participants will be asked to create a speech, focusing on any topic that interests the individual, and verbalize the written speech on a live webcam with the opportunity of reaching a regional bracket. Participants will not have to memorize the speech, and will progressively make corrections as they move up into higher brackets. 4-H’s Barton sees the event as a pristine opportunity to sharpen much-needed skills.
“A skill like public speaking will be put to use, no matter what career you choose. There’s no doubt that public speaking is a huge phobia, and when you ask anyone to get up in front of a room and talk, they would rather do anything else, but just like a sport, the more you practice, the better you get,” said Barton.
And while these activities can certainly be of use to keep kids and teens occupied, Barton sees it as more. The 4-H worker not only works to add hobbies to a kid’s life, but she also realizes that the program sharpens key tools that can later be put to use.
“When I first meet the middle schoolers, they exhibit shy mannerisms, but then they eventually find something they’re passionate about, whether it’s cooking or another 4-H program, and they slowly learn that if they practice enough, they’ll get better at it. Eventually, those same kids will try public speaking and break out. I’ve seen kids thrive off of thousands of dollars in college scholarships, based off of what they did in 4-H,” Barton said.
For more information, visit the Carter County 4-H Facebook page at www.facebook.com/utextcartercounty.