Samantha Satterfield, 17, Tara Wagoner, 18, and Heather Cothron, 16, are rare examples of 4-H’ers who have stuck it out to the very end.
“It’s like anything. As they get older they get more interests, and it’s so hard to do everything. So, you have to eliminate things. They still do other things, lots of other things, but they were some of the ones who were able to manage,” said Keith Allen, 4-H Agent for Macon County.
“It’s a lot of parent things,” he said. “They have great parents. If you don’t have parents backing you and helping you, it’s hard for just a 4-H’er.”
All three girls are students at Macon County High School. Satterfield and Wagoner are both Seniors, while Cothron is a Junior. They all joined 4-H in the fourth grade, the first year they could.
“I remember my cousin was in 4-H, and I guess I kind of wanted to do it because she did, but then when you are in fourth grade, Keith and Lynn (Knight) come to your classroom and tell you about it and then you just start doing stuff,” said Cothron of how she became involved with 4-H.
Satterfield also had a family influence when it came to her decision to join 4-H.
“My mom and dad were really involved in 4-H,” she said. “My mom used to show sheep when she was younger through high school.”
“Actually, it was my parents too,” said Wagoner. “My mom used to always talk about 4-H camp. I don’t know what activities she did, but that’s what she always talked about, and that really got me interested in it.”
It was nearly a decade ago that these three made their first forays into 4-H. In that time, they have had a lifetime of experiences.
“4-H Congress,” said Wagoner. “4-H Congress is the best because you get to learn how everything works. You get to be either in the Senate or the House, and it’s just really interesting to see what they go through when they have their meetings. And you get to stay in a hotel, and every kid is excited about that because your parents aren’t there.”
Satterfield remembers her experiences in the sheep program.
“I’ve always showed sheep and those kinds of things since I was in the fourth grade, and I guess what always stuck out to me was, when you first got your sheep, you were like, ‘This is going to be so hard. There’s no way they’re ever going to be tame, but, in the end, your hard work pays off, and by the end of the summer it’s just an accomplishment. It shows how everything pays off if you work hard at it.”
Cothron says that her work as a team leader at 4-H camp sticks out in her mind.
“It’s really cool to be able to go to camp again as a team leader not as a camper, and you get to experience it from a different level.”
The girls all agree that they’ve grown as a result of their experiences in 4-H.
“When I was younger, I just thought it was camp and judging teams, and just a lot of fun stuff. It all has been, but you learn so much that you never thought you would learn.”
“That and, when you first start out, you get nervous about things, and you’re not sure how you’re going to do. The older you get, the more outgoing you get, and you’re just there for the experience and happy to be there. You’re just glad to get the opportunity.”
“You just took everything I was going to say,” said Wagoner.
“It’s helped me with every day things,” she said. “When we did the consumer decision-making team, that made me so nervous because you have to give reasons and stuff like that. But it makes you more outgoing because you interact with people that you don’t know. So, you just learn to be better at stuff like that, meeting new people and stuff.”
After all is said and done, these three girls say that they will carry a great deal from 4-H with them throughout their lives.
“What won’t you carry away?” said Satterfield.
Cothron cites a list,”Memory, knowledge, friends.”
“Some people I wouldn’t be friends with if it weren’t for 4-H,” said Wagoner.
Next year, Satterfield and Wagoner will both be going to college. Wagoner plans on attending Western Kentucky University to study meteorology. She hopes to work for the National Weather Service someday. Satterfield wants to be a veterinarian but hasn’t decided where she wants to attend school yet.
“We need to say that we appreciate Keith and Lynn for being there for us, and taking us to everything,” she said.
Cothron still has one more year before she graduates from high school and leaves the 4-H legacy to a new generation of 4-H’ers.
“I hope that I made as much of an impression on the younger 4-H’ers as the older 4-H’ers made on me,” said Cothron.
Tyler Gann, Luci Allen, and brother and sister Dalton and Brooklyn Driver are all young 4-H’ers. Gann, Allen and Dalton have all been in 4-H for a year, while Brooklyn, 9, is a new 4-H member in the fourth grade.
As an eighth-grader, Dalton, 14, who recently won the State Beekeeping Essay Contest, has been in 4-H the longest, but all of these kids have already done a great deal.
Brooklyn has participated in land judging, is the president of the 4-H club in her classroom, and has competed in a speech contest. She wants to do horse judging,which she will begin working toward this week.
“Judging teams help build decision-making skills that will help them later in life,” said Keith. “We’re just using animals as the vehicle for that.”
Tyler wants to do sheep judging. He has done the poster contest and public speaking for two years. He won first place for public speaking in his classroom, second place in county and third place in sub regional competitions.
Luci has done the sheep project, the pig project, livestock judging, public speaking, poster contest, and land judging.
Each one has an activity that they enjoy the most. Brooklyn and Tyler both enjoy public speaking contests.
“I just like getting up in front of crowds and talking and yelling,” said Brooklyn.
Tyler said, “It teaches you how you can get up in front of large crowds when you get older to give your speeches and your opinions on things.
“Especially if you’re going to be President,” added Brooklyn.
Dalton enjoys judging teams and camp.
“You get to meet other people from different counties,” he said. “I’ve made a lot of friends from Smith County, and Overton, and Warren.
Luci enjoys the pig project.
“It teaches you responsibility and how to take care of animals,” she said.
For all of these kids, 4-H is a legacy. Luci is Keith’s daughter. Tyler’s mother was in 4-H when she was young, as well as his cousins, whose involvement in 4-H is what prompted him to join. Not only are Dalton and Brooklyn brother and sister, they’re mother was also in 4-H. Of course they disagree over whether or not Dalton’s guidance is offered on his part or requested on hers, but Brooklyn won’t deny that his advice has been helpful.
“I like for her to learn things on her own,” said Dalton.
“That way you don’t have teach me and do all the hard work?” she asked.
“Well, that’s part of it,” Dalton joked. “It’s just better for you to do things yourself than rely on someone else,” he said.
For more information about 4-H in Macon County, contact Keith Allen or Lynn Knight at the U.T. Extension Office at 666-3341.