Family Affair: Mississippi 4-Her hails from a long line of program members

Jacob Turner has been a Mississippi State University Extension Service 4-H member since he was old enough to join. He said he is the fourth or fifth generation in his family to take part in 4-H.

Jacob Turner has been a 4-H member since he was old enough to join.

That’s because his family understands the benefits the Mississippi State University Extension Service’s youth development program offers to young people. They are loyal supporters and former members of the program and have volunteered and participated for decades. Turner’s four siblings are also active members of 4-H.

“My whole family has been involved with 4-H for a long time,” Turner said. “My mom, my grandmother, and my great-grandmother have all been involved in 4-H. It goes back four or five generations.”

The Greenville High School sophomore stays busy. In addition to making time for 4-H and participating in just about every program his Extension agents have offered—from public speaking to cooking— he also plays French horn in his high school band and is active in school- and summer-league sports, including baseball, track, and soccer.

“My favorite right now is fishing club,” Turner said. “I fished before we had a club, but I’ve learned some new ways to do things. I’ve also learned to be more patient.”

Turner said public speaking is a skill that he’s been able to improve in 4-H.

“I was nervous when I first started, but I knew I could do it,” he said. “Now, I really love it. I use it in English class mostly. It has given me skills that some of my classmates don’t have.”

Other programs he participates in include science club, grilling contests, shooting sports, and the Clean Up Mississippi Marathon. He is also serving his second year as a 4-H ambassador. Ambassadors learn leadership, citizenship, and communication skills by helping promote 4-H. They serve as emcees, program facilitators, and members of county and state council committees.

“I like having better insight into 4-H and getting to help make decisions about where 4-H is going in the future,” Turner said about his role.

As an ambassador, Turner participates in activities like 4-H Legislative Day, where participants meet with and learn from state legislators and other leaders. This year, he was able to interview John Spann, program and outreach officer with the Mississippi Humanities Council, and Sean Tindall, Mississippi public safety commissioner.

“It was interesting to talk with them about the things they are doing in their positions to help improve life in Mississippi,” Turner said.

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Photos by Kevin Hudson

Turner loves to sing and is a member of his church choir and the Voices of Glory group. He took his talent to the stage for the 4-H Idol Contest, where 4-H’ers had the opportunity to try out for the national television show American Idol.

Turner believes 4-H is an important program that can change lives of young people for the better.

“I’ve seen 4-H put people on a totally different path than they were on,” said Washington County Extension Agent Jennifer Russell. “That’s why we try to take a holistic approach to what we offer. We want to give our children the opportunity to participate in as many experiences as possible to help them be the best they can be.”

That includes the chance to choose activities they may not otherwise try, explained fellow Washington County Extension Agent Lionell Hinds.

“Kids get a lot of opportunities to participate in school sports here,” Hinds said. “So, my philosophy is to take an athletically-minded kid and introduce them to the cultural side of life—things like planting, sewing, cooking, and learning about farm animals. We can also take a culturally minded youth and introduce them to the sports side of life—like kayaking, fishing, and shooting sports. Then, you can develop a more well-rounded youth by letting them experience both sides of life.”

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Photos by Kevin Hudson

Story via Mississippi State University
Written by Susan Collins-Smith
Photos by Kevin Hudson

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