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FFA Sentinel

Shelby County FFA Learns Gun Safety
By Madelyn Guy

On Dec. 4, 2018, Shelby County High School FFA members in Mr. Dustin Cleckler’s Fundamentals of Agriscience class rode a bus to the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office for a Hunters Safety Education Field Day. The students took part in this event to get a demonstration on how to utilize firearms in order to become proficient in the handling of them. With the guidance of Alabama Wildlife and Conservation Officer Mr. Ron Eakes, the students received apt information about the proper usage of the weapons as well as learned about their dangers.
The Alabama Wildlife and Conservation Office, Shelby County Sheriff’s Office and Shelby County FFA collaborate to make sure this important event occurs annually. Eakes introduced the students to the weapons and led them through the demonstration. He went through important steps in the firearm handling process.
The first element of gun safety he taught the students was that you should always treat a gun as if it is loaded. Accidental shootings are very common and many times fatal. Injuries that come from this type of mishandling are all due to not giving the gun the reverence and care it deserves in order to operate it properly. Eakes exposed the reality of the dangers of guns, then taught the students the proper way to hold, carry and fire the guns.
The next important detail of hunting and shooting the students learned was to only point the muzzle of the gun at something you intend to shoot, such as a target or any form of wild game, as well as being conscious of the position the firearm is in when they are not preparing to shoot. A common mistake among experienced and inexperienced gun owners alike is to mistakenly point or wave the gun in an unsafe direction. For example, when the hunter is walking, he must be mindful of the direction the gun will point with every move they make. Eakes educated the students on the essential awareness of one’s surroundings. A hunter must identify not only the target but also what lies behind it so as not to injure themselves or someone else.
Another key detail in being safe with firearms directed by Eakes was to never let your finger touch the trigger of the gun unless you are completely ready to fire. Another easy-to-make mistake among hunters is to rest a finger on the trigger out of habit or because the shooter believes one can shoot quicker that way. This habit is very dangerous because it leaves a lot of room for error. Eakes made clear it only takes a sudden movement or a wrong step for a hunter’s finger to accidentally squeeze at the wrong time. By doing this, the shooter will most likely miss the target, which can be hazardous to anything in its new path.
Through this demonstration, students acquired information about firearms they may not have been taught at home. Many families possess guns and keep them in their household, so it is important for each person to know how seriously to treat them. As a student, it is refreshing to see firearms in a positive light in juxtaposition to how people portray them in the media.

4-H Extension Corner

Investing in Tomorrow
By Carolyn Drinkard

Imagine enjoying 4-H activities for years and then being rewarded with a $1,000 scholarship for those experiences. That’s just what happened this year to 35 Alabama 4-H seniors!
After recognizing a need to honor students for their exceptional 4-H accomplishments, the Alabama 4-H Foundation Board made a financial commitment to establish scholarships that rewarded the hard work and determination of 4-H’ers statewide. To qualify, 4-H students applied online and then submitted a resume, a letter of recommendation and an essay, entitled “How Alabama 4-H Has Changed My Life.”
These scholarships, given for the first time in 2019, were quite unique. “The Alabama 4-H Foundation Scholarships were based on 4-H and overall achievement alone,” explained Nancy Alexander, Alabama Cooperative Extension System 4-H Specialist. “No test scores or GPA were involved in the selection of recipients. The scholarships were not awarded based on any particular major or college the student was attending.”
A panel of judges awarded the 4-H Foundation Scholarships for $1,000 to these 35 outstanding students: Morgan Anderson – Mobile County; Hannah Boykin, Clarke County; Fernandus Brown, Jefferson County; Anna Choat, Lauderdale County; Timothy Cleveland, Etowah County; Rebecca Dean, Lee County; Logan Edmonds, Marshall County; Sara Beth Graves, Jefferson County; Christina Green, Coffee County; Gabriel Hamm, Henry County; Chloe Harrell, Coosa County; Bronson House, Calhoun County; Brooklyn House, Calhoun County; Tabitha Jarvis, DeKalb County; Erin Key, Lauderdale County; Colby Lee, Covington County; Reagan Lindsey, Cullman County; Dalton Maddox, Elmore County; Jordan Melson, Morgan County; Justin Mitchell, Lauderdale County; Zully Montero, Dallas County; Jamie Moore, Marengo County; Madison Richter, Limestone County; Wesley Rogers, Cherokee County; Jayden Siggers, Tallapoosa County; Keatrice Streeter, Bullock County; Destiny Walker, Winston County; Bailee Wiggins, Mobile County; Laura Grace Wilson, Clarke County; and Will Yates, Marengo County.
To show the variety of 4-H experiences in Alabama, we will spotlight six outstanding scholarship winners:
Brandon Dix attended Central High School in Russell County. His 4-H experiences included Alabama 4-H Ambassador, Mid-Winter Teen Retreat, 4-H Camp Counselor-in-training, Russell County 4-H Council, President of Hilltop 4-H Club, Photography and RiverKids. Geni Payne, 4-H Foundation Regional Agent for Russell County, declared, “Brandon has a special spark and will make a significant difference in making our future a better place.” In the fall, Dix will attend the University of Alabama Birmingham, majoring in Civil Engineering.
Grace Howe, from Handley High School in Randolph County, spent eight years in 4-H. Her experiences included 4-H Achievement Winner, National 4-H Congress, 4-H Youth Council, 4-H Club President, Leadership Randolph County, 4-H Summer Camp, baking, quilting, public speaking and gardening. Tiffany Moore, Randolph County Extension Coordinator, praised Howe, “Grace not only has a passion for 4-H, but she is also kind-hearted and loves to give back to her community.” Howe has decided to pursue Chemical Engineering at Auburn University.
Abraham Humphrey attended Brilliant High School in Marion County. During his seven years of membership in 4-H, his experiences included 4-H State Ambassador, Marion County 4-H Youth Council President, 4-H Achievement Winner in Communications, 4-H Public Speaking and National 4-H Congress. Lisa Murphy, County Extension Coordinator of Marion County, commended Humphrey: “Not only has Abraham used 4-H to further his abilities but he has also used those skills and growth opportunities to help others, whether through encouraging younger 4-H’ers in their project work or helping the less fortunate with community service projects in his community and surrounding areas.” Humphrey will attend Bevill State Community College to major in Physical Therapy and Public Service.
Taylor Keel graduated from Pathway Christian School in Houston County. During her eight years in 4-H, her experiences included State 4-H Ambassador President, Alabama 4-H Ambassador, Wiregrass 4-H Regional Ambassador, National 4-H Conference, Southern Region Teen Leadership Conference, Chick Chain, debate, Houston County 4-H Youth Council, Lee County 4-H Youth Council, creator of the Houston County Special Needs 4-H Club with residents of the Vivian B School and others. Doug Summerford, 4-H Foundation Regional Agent for Houston and Henry counties, pointed out, “Taylor brings positive energy to everything she does and especially to Alabama 4-H.” Keel plans to attend Southern Union State Community College and major in Science.
Aiden Paul, from Hope Christian School in Shelby County, has many 4-H experiences, including State 4-H Ambassador, 4-H Achievement Winner in Communications, Mid-Winter Teen Retreat, 4-H Citizenship Washington Focus, National 4-H Conference, Shelby County Youth Council President, 4-H Camp Counselor-in-training and Freestyle Showcase & Public Speaking. Charity Waldrep, the Shelby County 4-H Regional Extension Agent, stated, “Aiden is a great young man, stellar leader, great speaker and an awesome 4-H’er. He continually impresses me, year after year.” Paul will study Business Management at Berry College.
Leah Ray graduated from Northside High School in Tuscaloosa County. She was a member of 4-H for seven years. Her 4-H experiences included 4-H Livestock Club (7 years), 4-H Livestock Quiz Bowl and National 4-H Livestock. Jonathan Gadney, Regional Extension Agent Animal Sciences and Forages, noted, “Leah is one of the most caring and nurturing leaders to everyone she meets. I believe that Leah Ray represents the core values of what it means to be a great 4-H’er.” Ray will continue her education at Bevill State Community College, Fayette Campus, to seek a degree in Agriculture.
Two other 4-H’ers received the Ann Barr 4-H Scholarship with Auburn University: Laralyn Webb of Shelby County and Sophia Howe of Randolph County.
These 35 seniors came from all over Alabama with different interests, experiences and post-secondary plans; yet, making the choice to become a part of 4-H has brought them big dividends. With these scholarships, the Alabama 4-H Foundation not only rewarded hard work and determination, they also made a major investment in the leaders of tomorrow.


George Washington Carver's STEAM Joins Clean Campus
By Jamie Mitchell

George Washington Carver’s after-school STEAM program is a proud member of the Clean Campus Program! STEAM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math, so taking care of our environment is a perfect fit for these programs! In fact, the Clean Campus program presentation meets teacher standards of environmental education.
The students of George Washington Carver’s STEAM program are very involved in regular campus cleanups and take occasional “brain breaks” by walking around campus and taking in the beauty of nature around them. These two activities are key components in creating lifelong stewards of our environment. We find that kids involved in cleanups are more aware of litter and its negative effects after they have participated in a cleanup firsthand. Additionally, students who have spent some quality time in nature are more prone to want to keep the world around them cleaner.
After my speaking time, the students took some time to interact with the recycled items I brought along with me. Students especially love seeing the t-shirt made from recycled plastic water bottles and the Lay’s chips bag that has been turned into a coin purse! I always have the students envision ways they can turn trash to treasure with their own garbage.
If you would like to learn more about the Clean Campus Program, check us out at or send an email to I would love to talk to you about how we can work together with your schools to prevent litter in your area. Back to school is the perfect time to integrate the Clean Campus curriculum into your local school. The program is FREE to all Alabama public and private schools.
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