Home Living Extension Update from Megan Burda: 4-H Public Speaking Contests

Extension Update from Megan Burda: 4-H Public Speaking Contests

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It’s Not Just All Talk! – It’s time for 4-H Public Speaking Contests

The 4-H competitive season is exciting and educational – and not just during the county fair! The York 4-H Program offers many events prior to the fair that help youth explore talent, public speaking, communication and judging skills. Some of these contests open the door to advancement to district, and state contests. For the older 4-H’er, especially, achievement in these contests can lead to college scholarships.


Public speaking is a skill 4-H’ers and Clover Kids can excel in with 4-H. Through the 4-H Public Speaking Contest, youth have an opportunity to write a speech or a public service announcement (PSA) that incorporates the topic of 4-H and deliver it to an audience. The PSA’s are themed based, and the state theme for the 2017 Public Service Announcement (PSA) is “4-H Grown.”

The York County Public Speaking Contest will be on Wednesday, April 26 at 6:30 p.m. at the 4-H Building on the York County fairgrounds. This is open to any 4-H’er or Clover Kid! This is a county, regional and state eligible contest. For more information about the rules and regulations for the public speaking contest, go to http://4h.unl.edu/regionalpublicspeaking.

It’s not just all talk! Being able to do public speaking may or may not mean giving speeches to hundreds behind a podium – being about to present yourself may help get that first job interview! Learning how to present yourself and your ideas and thoughts while challenging yourself to succeed with these skills is a pathway to a successful future while having fun and making friends.

A recent study by North Carolina Cooperative Extension indicates that the public speaking program also builds skills that young people apply in a variety of school, home and community settings. These skills include research, goal setting, organization, and oral presentation, and increase knowledge in one of many subject-matter areas sponsored by the program. Whether a 4-Her has interest in horses, science, wildlife, cooking, or just about any other topic, it is recommend they select a presentation to match their interest. There are resources available and practical assistance to make the experience more fun and rewarding if they. Statistics show that the more interest the youth has in their topic, the better their presentation will be.

Public speaking may be a common fear – but is easily confronted. The 4-H Public Speaking Contest helps youth develop skills for communicating about current issues to real audiences, learn how to organize and prepare a speech, develop speech delivery skills, learn how to present themselves to others, and develop self-confidence. Every 4-H member should learn this skill!

Youth interviewed about their 4-H public speaking reported benefits that went beyond their 5 minutes on stage. Most felt more confident in research and speaking at school, more aware of the needs of animals, people, or technology they had studied for their speech, and more willing to volunteer to help others or lead events thanks to their public speaking experience.

This article comes from a series of resources developed by 4-H Youth Development professionals in the NE and SE District. Learn more about 4-H at 4h.unl.edu.

Sources: Amy Peterson, Extension Educator in Polk County; http://4h.unl.edu/publicspeakingcontest and North Carolina Extension Research, www. nc4h.org.

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