November is National Inspirational Role Models Month
Before the medals and the ribbons and the physical manifestations of success, there is a club, a meeting, and adult, a friend that changes the life of a youth. Someone that gives youth the confidence to believe in themselves. Someone that they can look to as an example to follow. The Oxford dictionary defines a role model as “a person looked to by others as an example to be imitated.” In the midst of the social media culture where people have the potential to drastically influence a person’s life without ever holding a conversation, it is essential that youth have positive role models who will guide them in an ever changing society.
Organizations like 4-H, where programming is highly reliant on the dedication of volunteers, there are innumerable individuals who function as role models. Though there are many individuals, I have often found that most great role models function in similar manners and styles. Each style is as unique as each person, more important is the fact that each individual has an impact on the youth around them, consciously or not. Some individuals strive to have a significant impact on youth such as Angela Tinker. As the leader of the county wide Leadership Club, Angela Tinker is a positive role model and a consistent presence in the lives of the youth she works with. She is a shining example of just one of the many 4-H volunteers who serve to inspire youth as positive role models.
The Shepherd: Angela Tinker
The role of the shepherd is to look after the safety and welfare of their flock. As youth grow older and near the completion of their 4-H careers, youth not only want to demonstrate their independence, but they need a safe environment in which to do it. They also need individuals who will lead them, and more importantly who will lead them by example.
Angela Tinker exemplifies a shepherd. She has worked as an Escambia County 4-H volunteer for eleven years. Over the course of her tenure, she has worked with younger youth as well as teenagers. She continues to lead the Leadership Club where she works with teenagers. When asked why she continues to serve as a volunteer, even though both of her daughters have graduated and moved on from the program, Angela responded, “seeing the little successes, which turn into big successes.” It is her passion to cultivate an environment in which the little successes of everyday emerge as life altering successes that enables her to be the role model these youth see when working with her.
Angela is a role model that leads by quietly tending to the youth she works with, and by ensuring that they have the best opportunities to grow and build their skills. As budding adults, the youth Angela works with are in some of the most formative years of their lives. Everything and everyone that these youth encounter shapes them in one way or another. It is the positive role models in the 4-H organization like Angela who ensure that our youth have the best chance to develop into the best person possible. Angela is an example of the 4-H way of “Making the Best, Better” every day.
Who Do You Inspire? Become a Role Model – Become a 4-H Volunteer
If you have knowledge or skills that you can share with youth in your community, consider becoming a 4-H volunteer! 4-H is always in need of caring, positive adult role models to serve in the role of 4-H volunteers. From leading a club to judging public speaking or teaching a craft project, contact your local UF/IFAS County Extension Office or visit our website to learn how you can serve as a positive adult role model today to make a difference in the lives of our youth tomorrow.
Special thanks to Aly Schortinghouse, UF/IFAS Escambia County 4-H Agent, for providing this article and picture.