Delaware 4-H Program Showcases Public Presentation Skills in Youth

Four delaware 4H youth at public speaking contest standing on stage.
Winners of the 2019 State 4-H Public Speaking Contest: Front Row ( l to r) Addison Freebery, Kieran Probert, Vanessa Gaines and Garrett Geidel. Back Row Michael Hudson, Vision Speaker Award Sponsor.

Public speaking and presentation skills are one of the most desired skills of work professionals. Delaware 4-H members are getting a head start in developing and honing these skills through participation in events requiring public presentation. The 2019 State 4-H Public Speaking Contest and State Demonstration Contests were held recently where 4-H members participating clearly displayed outstanding knowledge and life skills learned through their involvement as members in the Delaware 4-H Program.

The State 4-H Public Speaking Contest gives participants the opportunity to discuss a topic of their choice. In order to develop a successful speech, members must utilize skills such as researching a topic, organizing their ideas in a logical order, and then presenting their speech with appropriate tone of voice, gestures, and volume. Participants are competing for the coveted blue ribbon and the chance to be chosen as Champion Public Speaker in their respective age category.

This year, there were 11 contestants across the various age categories that competed in the statewide event. Participants were selected as the top speakers in their age categories at their respective County 4-H Public Speaking Contests.

Participants are classified by age divisions including (Beginner I: ages 8-9), (Beginner II: ages 10-11), (Junior: ages 12-13), and (Senior: ages 14-19). The division determines the length of the speech which progresses with each age division. Senior contestants are required to speak for 5-7 minutes whereas in the Beginner I category, the speaking time is 1-½ to 3 minutes.

Garrett Geidel was named the 2019 Senior Public Speaking Champion. Garrett is 18 years old and a 13-year member of the Peach Blossom 4-H Club in Kent County. Garrett’s speech, “Social Media or Social Menace” provided him the opportunity to discuss the issues related to our modern use of social media, some of which he indicates are not so obvious to what we would expect. He also discussed some potential solutions for healthier use of social media and technology in general. Garrett has been participating in 4-H public speaking events since the age of 5, and quickly learned his skills to present and speak effectively kept getting better the more he participated in this type of event. He always enjoyed the challenge of writing a speech and knew he was gaining valuable skills for his future. Garrett stated, “I definitely feel my early involvement with public speaking in 4-H provided me an advantage over my peers. It helped me to gain skills and be more comfortable speaking in front of others while making me more prone to take a leading role in group scenarios and develop my interview skills as well.”

The Junior Division Champion was Vanessa Gaines, 14-year old Kent County 4-H member of the Westville 4-H Club for the past 9 years. Her speech, “CSA’s in the USA” allowed Vanessa to share important program information that this association can offer to both farmers and customers participating. She learned about this program when several of her family members participated in one, and she feels it is a “super cool idea.” She is hoping to start her own CSA (Community Supported Agriculture), on a small scale, during her high school years. Vanessa also started participating in 4-H public speaking events at at the age of 5 and knew starting young was such an advantage as she did not even know at that time it was something to be nervous about, but rather thought it was fun. Vanessa stated, “4-H public speaking has allowed me to gain confidence in my speaking ability and makes me feel good about myself. It has given me self-assurance and life skills that I will use my whole life!”

Statewide division winners were also presented a Vision Speaker Award from sponsor Dr. Michael Hudson, Strategist, Coach and Keynote Speaker.

Results of the State Delaware 4-H Public Speaking Contest:

Beginner I: (Ages 8-9)
1st Place Addison Freebery Hollymount 4-H Club
2nd Place Madelyn Gallo Peach Blossom 4-H Club
3rd Place Alexis Wolff St. Ann’s 4-H Club

Beginner II: (Ages 10-11)
1st Place Kieran Probert Sunset Branch 4-H Club
2nd Place Trey Moffett Peach Blossom 4-H Club
3rd Place Liam Aber Holy Angels 4-H Club

Junior: (Ages 12-13)
1st Place Vanessa Gaines Westville 4-H Club
2nd Place Carter Bradley Bridgeville Mustangs 4-H Club
3rd Place Melanie Witte Porter Gang 4-H Club

Senior: (Ages 14-19)
1st Place Garrett Geidel Peach Blossom 4-H Club
2nd Place Jenna Anger Bridgeville Mustangs 4-H Club

4-H members also have the opportunity to develop public presentation skills while competing in the State 4-H Demonstration Contest. Demonstrations are held across three days in the main categories of Animal Science, Plant and Environmental Science, Family Consumer Science and General. Within these categories, there are thirty-five different topic areas members can choose to present on either as an individual or a team of two. Members are required to research their topic, develop a logical sequence for their presentation, and support their presentation with props or visual aids including handmade posters or digital presentations. The goal of the demonstration is to show several steps in a process or topic such as baking a cake, preparing an animal for show, or explaining how to make a quilt. The presentation is then followed by a question and answer period where the judges and audience members are allowed to ask questions of the presenters about their demonstration and the participants have a chance to further demonstrate their expertise in the chosen topic.

4H girl standing on stage at state fair demonstration contest.
Harrington Sunshine 4-H Club member Rachel Taylor presenting her individual demonstration in the Indoor Gardening category.

As a 16 year old member of the Harrington Sunshine 4-H Club, Rachel Taylor has been presenting demonstrations for the past 8 years. Her Indoor Gardening Demonstration entitled, “Ready, Set Grow!” allowed her to share new ways to recycle newspapers to make pots to use for house plants. Rachel enjoys doing demonstrations and likes to be able to share topics she is passionate about. She has learned how to remain calm when speaking in front of others and how to respond to answer difficult questions that you might not always know the answer to. “I feel I have gained many valuable life skills,” said Rachel. “By participating in demonstrations, I am able to practice my speaking skills as well as increase my confidence level. It’s not always easy sharing a topic in front of a large crowd, but I have been able to improve my nerves and making sure I am effectively giving my presentation.”

Jenna Anger, a 16 year old member of the Bridgeville Mustangs 4-H Club, has competed in the 4-H Demonstration Contest for over 8 years, and this year teamed up with her 8 year old sister, Juliette, a first year demonstrator. While presenting their Floriculture demonstration on flower arranging, they covered techniques used in flower arranging including balance and texture which both help to add appeal to an arrangement. They also shared all the materials and steps to necessary to make a flower arrangement while successfully completing a beautiful floral arrangement at the conclusion of their demonstration. When speaking about her experience in this 4-H event, Jenna said “I love doing demonstrations as it allows me to develop a better understanding on topics that I am truly passionate about as well as inform others about interesting things they can learn or do with their friends and family. I have learned many leadership skills, especially being able to work with younger members in my club, and it has allowed both by sister and I to greatly expand our public speaking skills.”

2 delaware 4H girls standing on stage doing a flower demonstration.
Jenna Anger and Juliette Anger present a team floriculture demonstration on flower arranging.

During the state competition, 66 youth participated by presenting demonstrations. Results of the competition can be viewed at the following website link: http://extension.udel.edu/4h/delaware-state-fair/contestinfo/

The Delaware 4-H Program continues to provide opportunities for youth to develop and showcase their public presentation skills. This was clearly seen as all participants in the 4-H public presentation contests did a great job and displayed for the crowd the critical life skill that is essential for being able to interact and effectively express our ideas with others. 4-H is available to youth ages 5 to 19 years of age. If you would like to learn more about the Delaware 4-H youth program, please contact the State 4-H Office at (302) 831-2509 or visit www.extension.udel.edu/4h.