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Hats off to 4-H for its focus on communications training

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First a warning. If you have been following my blog for the past year this may sound like a bit of déjà vu.  But not quite.


In February of last year, I blogged about how impressed I was with the speeches I judged at the Nashwaak Valley 4-H competition. In that blog I wrote:


“I don't mean to overstate the case. They have a long way to go, but this was only at the club level. We were choosing the winners to go on to regional, and then provincial competition, and then there's a national level competition for the older members. All I can say is given that what I watched was the first level, the higher levels must be incredible.”


Well, that was then and this is now and on Saturday, I was one of the judges at the higher level – those who had made it through club, then district competition, and now were at the provincials. And I would not be overstating the case to say every speech we heard, from the little kids as young as seven through to the senior level were extraordinary.  


What struck me was that as judges we didn't detect a bit of nerves from any of the presenters – none. What we saw was nothing but confidence.


It is a credit to the 4-H leaders that they put such a focus on public speaking, with many of the clubs making it mandatory. This has given all these kids a definitive leg up on whatever they do in life. There is not one profession where the ability to communicate, and the confidence that comes with that strength, will not be an incredible asset.


These kids are destined to be the leaders of tomorrow.


The way it works the winner in the senior category goes on to compete at the national level, I believe in November in Ottawa. Congratulations to Victoria Blakely of the Coverdale-Albert County 4-H Club, and soon to be graduate of the Communications program at St. Thomas University. She'll be going by virtue of her winning first place on Saturday. She gave a very creatively crafted and well-delivered speech on the Bay of Fundy tides, and to be honest, she's the first person who could ever explain that tides and moon thing to me in a way I could understand it.


As part of the competition, as a senior she also had to deliver a two-minute speech only two minutes after hearing what the topic was. Talk about pressure. But she nailed that too.


I understand all the speeches are to be posted on the Farm Credit Corporation website, but I'm not sure when. But to give you an idea just how good these young people are, catch this interview from CBC Radio's Shift program from last week, keeping in mind these are two 11 year olds.






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