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.