I am deeply humbled by this recognition for my 10 years that I have spent in 4‑H. Surrounding myself with volunteers, club members and advisors that recognized my struggles without knowing the reason why, helped build my confidence and has catapulted me to where I am today. I hope to motivate those with learning difficulties to join 4‑H, to reach for that brass ring and attain success.
There are a lot of firsts: being one of the four Youth in Action pillar award recipients for 2016; being the first to win from the great state of Ohio; and of course informing others for the first time in my life about my past struggles with learning.
The highlights included, of course, receiving the award at National 4‑H Council’s Legacy Awards, meeting the CEO of National 4‑H, Jennifer Sirangelo, meeting 4‑H Alum and singer Jennifer Nettles, and meeting Miss America 2016 Betty Cantrell. At the Legacy Awards, I enjoyed spending time speaking with the Bayer Crop Science attendees and researchers and was able to thank them for their sponsorship. Meeting Ohio Congressman Steve Stivers was amazing. He took the time out of his busy schedule to speak with me about my award and what I did to receive this recognition. I could not forget how awesome it was for my younger brother, James, to win an acoustic guitar from Jennifer Nettles during the Legacy Award dinner.
Celebrating the Grow True Leaders Campaign with other 4‑H youth was historic. The energy and excitement that was felt by all those at the rally was electrifying. It was a once in a lifetime event and I am so proud to have been part of it.
Over the past few weeks since receiving this award, I have come to realize how much the 4‑H organization has truly shaped my life, given me a purpose and a career path, inspired me to continue to achieve, and ultimately succeed. By participating in 4‑H locally, within the state of Ohio and nationally, I hope to achieve and succeed in expanding my leadership capabilities and to continue to serve as a positive role model to 4‑H.
To everyone that has helped me in 4‑H, thank you for planting the seed of 4‑H in me and inspiring me to make a difference. I am grateful for your life lessons and words of encouragement. Thank you for teaching me the blessings of leadership and service. 4‑H grows true leaders and I welcome others to get planted in 4‑H and join me.