Graduation is that bitter sweet moment of finally closing the high school chapter of life and diving into adulthood. Involvement with 4-H can help ease this transition for many young adults. 4-H teaches youth life skills through positive youth development opportunities. These opportunities allow them to navigate the world through experiential learning, the “learn by doing” approach, so they may develop skills to rely on for many years after their time spent in 4-H. Two Walton County 4-H’ers are preparing to do just that, but it hasn’t always been an “easy row to hoe.”
Jackson Leath started his journey in Walton County 4-H at age eight. He was involved in local clubs and even traveled to Washington D.C. and summer camp. However, after several battles with anxiety, Jackson took a break from 4-H for many years. In 2015, he decided to try out the Walton County Teen Council Club with a few friends. This led him to volunteering at day camps, leading group recreation with campers, and ultimately becoming a Junior Counselor for summer camp! Jackson overcame many hurdles along the way but regained his confidence and independence so greatly that it fueled his passion for leadership and service to others.
Jackson’s goal has always been, “to show kids that 4-H is fun and to give them the memories I’ve had here.” After conquering any fear or doubts, Jackson has been active in multiple community clubs, has been a Camp Timpoochee Camp Counselor for 4 years, volunteered at numerous day camps, and held multiple offices on the county level. Jackson’s confidence has also led him to accomplishments at school which include Captain of the soccer team and officer positions in various clubs.
Cheyenne Duncan moved to the Florida Panhandle in 2014. Within her freshman year of high school, Cheyenne battled bullying, abusive relationships, and depression. Through her involvement with 4-H and becoming a Junior Camp Counselor to “try camp,” (as an effort from her mother and 4-H Agent to turn negatives into positives), Cheyenne blossomed! During a heartfelt conversation on a Camp Timpoochee bench, Cheyenne shared with her 4-H Agent that “this 4-H stuff really works!” Cheyenne not only conquered her adversaries, but she also became driven to share her story with others in 4-H, the community, and the State to help other teens that may be facing the same battles. Cheyenne has led many community clubs in all offices, competed at County Events, shown livestock in the local Fair, volunteered countless hours during day camps and will be serving her 5th year as a Camp Timpoochee Camp Counselor. Her champion spirit has also led her to complete the following in school: 2 years as Soccer Team Captain, 1 year assistant coach for spring soccer, multiple years dedicated to soccer, track and cross country along with 4 years of Jr ROTC and Drill with the accompanying ribbons to match!
Furthermore, not only have both Jackson and Cheyenne displayed what #TRUELEADERS are in 4-H and school extracurricular activities, but both are successfully working multiple jobs in the workforce as well! Through their experiential learning, both have seen many times of great achievement and possibly a few failures; however, 4-H provided a safe place for our youth to experience failure, learn from it, and ultimately Make the Best Better.
To get more involved in 4-H, find your local UF/IFAS Extension Office and ask your County 4-H Agent how to join!