Lights, Camera, Action … Arkansas 4-H hits the stage
By Emily Thompson
U of A System Division of Agriculture
Feb. 10, 2017
- Members show off their artistic side, learn public speaking skills in 4-H competitions
- Counties use incentive programs to encourage participation.
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. -- County 4-H programs all over the state hold many competitions throughout the year to let members demonstrate their skills. Two of these, in particular, give the kids an opportunity show off their artistic side and help them conquer stage fright.
4-H members participating in the Performing Arts and Fashion Revue competitions show off their talents in front of an audience of their peers and relatives.
In the performing arts competition, contestants perform a skit they wrote themselves, sing, play an instrument or dance. Participants practice their acts on their own time and judges are usually community volunteers.
“I don't care if I get first or last place, or anywhere in between,” said Amber Wagoner, Independence County 4-H member. “While performing, I enjoy the act of acting – adopting a persona that I don't usually possess and making it me."
Participants in the Fashion Revue model an outfit they either made themselves or picked out. Outfits need to fit in either the casual or dressy category. The contestant then must give a talk explaining why the chose or designed the pieces they did and where they would wear them.
These county competitions are the first step to going to State O’Rama, where 4-H members from all over the state come to compete. Generally, those who place in county competitions move on to districts where they compete again to make it to state. Each county handles their own competitions differently, though.
Jeanie Rowbotham, Johnson County extension 4-H agent for the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture, said she encourages all the 4-H members in her county to participate because it helps instill self-confidence.
Linda Latus, Independence County extension 4-H agent for the Division of Agriculture, agrees.
“It’s best to get them out early, before they become afraid to get out in front of people,” Latus said.
Fear of public speaking
The fear of speaking or performing in front of an audience is common. A study done by Chapman University found that 28 percent of Americans fear public speaking. That ranks ahead of fear of hurricanes, break-ins or heights.
Latus said the audience helps the children feel more at ease on stage.
“The audience and the parents are always so supportive,” Latus said.
Daniel Latus, Independence County 4-H member, said that through these competitions, he learned that he can get up in front of people and “feel comfortable.”
The participants also learn about leadership in these competitions.
“It’s not about winning a ribbon, but about participating,” said Daniel Latus. “4-H has given me many opportunities to be a leader and get out of my comfort zone.”
Counties use different incentive programs to try and encourage participation in these competitions.
Independence County uses a point system. For every activity or competition the members take part in, they earn one point. More points are awarded if a member places in the competition. If enough points are earned, and the 4-H member completes a record book, they receive half off the annual summer trip. This year’s trip is to Dallas where the 4-H members will take part in fun and educational activities.
“We try to make it fun for the kids,” Latus said.
4-H is a youth program that helps kids learn by doing. The program teaches youth leadership skills, self-esteem and college readiness.
“4-H is the best kept secret,” said Rowbotham. “I wish it weren’t.”
Independence County will hold their Performing Arts Competition Feb. 9 and the Fashion Revue March 7. Johnson County will hold both competitions March 11.
To find out more about 4-H in your area, contact your l county agent (see www.uaex.edu/counties/).
The University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture offers all its Extension and Research programs and services without regard to race, color, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, national origin, religion, age, disability, marital or veteran status, genetic information, or any other legally protected status, and is an Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity Employer.
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By Mary Hightower
The Cooperative Extension Service
U of A System Division of Agriculture
Media Contact: Mary Hightower
Dir. of Communication Services
U of A Division of Agriculture
Cooperative Extension Service