Youth Learning Skills for a Lifetime

— Written By and last updated by Kerri Rayburn

Children's happy facesI just love the part of my job where I get to see young people grow their skills. It’s amazing to experience them working together, building confidence, planning & implementing projects, and being creative. These skills get practiced in Jackson County 4-H every day and I’d like to tell you about a few examples.

Speaking or performing in front of others is listed as a very scary activity for many people. In 4-H we believe that practicing these skills helps make it easier. Last week youth ages 6-15 performed in the Mountain Youth Talent Contest that was held at the Greening Up the Mountains Festival in Sylva. They had practiced and now it was time to nervously step up to the microphone, introduce themselves, and sing or play an instrument in the contest. They were practicing skills that will move them to the top of the class, and eventually to a better job.

Much research, and many websites, are dedicated to describing what skills businesses are looking for in employees. Most, of course, want employees who can do the mechanics of the work but they also want workers who can solve problems, work in a team, communicate effectively (written and orally), can plan and organize and can have the tenacity to follow through. 4-H isn’t solving all of the world’s problems but we are working hard to help prepare the leaders of tomorrow who WILL help solve them.

The Jackson County Youth Leadership Council, a 4-H club, was established to intentionally give teenagers the opportunity to learn and practice leadership skills. They conduct fundraisers, complete numerous community service projects, give money to the community for youth-led projects, and each year host Spring into Summer – a festival for youth and families planned and implemented by youth. These 25 teenagers are hosting Spring into Summer on Saturday, June 2 at Bridge Park in Sylva. The event runs 11:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. and includes an art contest, community booths, a bouncy house, food by Brewdawgz. There will also be local music by Hollerin’ Home and Summer & Bray of the Mountain Faith Band. Come on out and support these young people as they practice skills they will continue to use in the workplace, in personal life to schedule things in college, plan a family reunion, or someday plan a wedding.

Jackson 4-H membersCounty 4-H offers activities and clubs for children ages 5-18 that include learning leadership skills, responsibility, trying new things, and building self-confidence. Contact me today at 828.586.4009 or