S.C. teens impress at National 4-H Congress in Atlanta
CLEMSON — Bamberg County teenager Carey Herndon introduced her South Carolina colleagues to the other 1,000 4-H members from across the country convened at the 93rd National 4-H Congress in Atlanta.
It was a brief moment on stage, but a big one for the junior at Andrew Jackson Academy in Ehrhardt.
“I’ve gained so much confidence. Without the experiences I’ve gained through 4-H, I would have never been able to do that,” Herndon said. “The best decision I ever made in my life was to join 4-H. Some of my best friends I’ve met through 4-H.”
Herndon was among eight South Carolina teenagers chosen to represent South Carolina at the four-day National 4-H Congress that featured guest speakers, educational workshops, community service projects and tours of Atlanta attractions. Participants were chosen to attend based on their 4-H work during the year. Members of the South Carolina delegation have competed in numerous state and national contests, are active in community service and are involved in educating young people across the state about science and health.
The South Carolina 4-H program is the youth-development program of the Clemson University Cooperative Extension Service. More than 84,000 young people in South Carolina participate in 4-H. Programs cover animal science, agriculture, science, engineering, natural resources, leadership and much more.
During the trip to Atlanta, Herndon toured CNN and spent a couple hours packaging 15,000 pounds of food at a local food bank. Other 4-H members read to students at a local elementary school.
Micah Metts of Saluda County played piano during dinner at the Congress Gala on closing night.
Another South Carolina attendee, Marti Leake of Anderson County, spent two hours cleaning a city park while there.
“We learned new takes on community service and leadership,” said Leake, a senior at Belton-Honea Path High School. “I’ve been in 4-H for 11 years. I’ve become a better leader. I’m better at planning and organization. I know this will be useful to me in college. It already has been useful to me.”
Other attendees from South Carolina were Katherine Ellig of Kershaw County, Allison Harman of Saluda County, Rae’L Jackson of Chester County, MacKenzie Riley of Saluda County and Joseph Sheets of Charleston County.
About South Carolina’s representatives at the 4-H National Congress:
Katherine Ellig of Kershaw County joined 4-H horse clubs in fourth grade and since has been involved in many 4-H animal programs. Before moving to South Carolina, Ellig held leadership positions to help plan elements of the Virginia 4-H Fair. In November, Ellig won the National 4-H Horse Bowl Championship in Louisville, Kentucky, as member of a team of South Carolina 4-H members.
Allison Harman of Saluda County has been involved in 4-H animal livestock programs for eight years and recently was named the S.C. Junior Beef Ambassador and represented the state at the National Beef Ambassador contest in Denver, Colorado. Harman plans to study agribusiness and animal science at Clemson.
Carey Herndon of Bamberg County joined 4-H at age 5 and now is secretary of the South Carolina State 4-H Teen Council. She is involved in numerous 4-H programs and community service projects and plans to serve as a camp counselor when she turns 18. Herndon plans to study childhood education or performing arts in college.
Rae’L Jackson of Chester County came to a 4-H sewing club because of a love of fashion. She is now a 4-H Ambassador who has greatly expanded her interests and experiences through 4-H programs in leadership, public speaking, science and more. Jackson is a member of the Youth Science Team that helps teach young students across the state about science, technology, engineering and mathematics through the 4-H Science on the Move program.
Marti Leake of Anderson County joined 4-H 10 years ago after her family rescued abandoned chickens that had fallen off a poultry truck. She is now active in 4-H horse programs and shooting sports and serves in numerous leadership positions to help educate younger 4-H members. Leake is attending firefighting courses at the Anderson Career and Technology Center.
Micah Metts of Saluda County joined 4-H after moving to meet new friends. Since then, she has participated in numerous 4-H events and is now a 4-H Ambassador, Healthy Lifestyles Ambassador and Teen Leader who mentors children across the state and advocates for 4-H and healthy living. Metts secured a grant from Kraft Foods to teach an after-school food nutrition program in elementary schools. Metts plans to study nursing at Charleston Southern University.
MacKenzie Riley of Saluda County joined 4-H at the age of 5 and has been involved in numerous programs. With a love for healthy cooking, Riley competed in a national 4-H cooking contest in New Orleans and now teaches younger students how to eat and live healthier. She also involved in numerous community service projects and regularly entertains residents of a local nursing home.
Joseph Sheets of Charleston County serves on the 4-H Healthy Lifestyles Senior Team helping to spread the message of the importance of healthy living and eating. The recipient of a $1,000 grant, Sheets implemented the Media Smart Youth program that teaches youth about the connection between media, physical activity and food choices. He’s also involved in numerous community service projects.