I grabbed the microphone and took in a deep breath. The day I had been working on for the past month was finally here. As I exhaled to begin speaking, all of the anxiety I had been feeling left my body as excitement and pride filled the space that the nerves once obtained. I looked out and saw my students faces, my boss, my co advisor, the teaching staff, and then I looked to my right and saw all of the other AgriCorps Fellows anticipating my first move. ‘Here we go!’ I thought to myself as I introduced the first ever 4-H Ghana L.E.A.D. Workshop.
The 4-H Ghana L.E.A.D. (Leadership, Education, Agriculture, and Development) Workshop was held at Dobro Presby Junior High School, which is my site this year as an AgriCorps Fellow. The day consisted of 4 different sessions: plant and soil science, agricultural education panel discussion with industry speakers, public speaking and animal science, all led by the AgriCorps Fellows. The Dobro JHS 4-H Club officers were also able to help, by reciting the opening and closing ceremonies before and after the event.
Ryan and Eli led the plant and soil science session, where they completed a lesson on our school farm about the importance of composting. 4-H members were then able to build our very own compost pile, which is starting to look very nice! The agricultural education panel consisted of 3 local representatives from 4-H Ghana National Headquarters, the Ministry of Food and Agriculture, and the Ghana Education Service. Students were able to ask questions about the importance of agriculture on Ghana’s economy and education system, as well as the importance to their own personal futures as citizens of their country. Merle and Ellen led the public speaking session and explained the effectiveness of using your body movements, eye contact, projection and understanding your audience while speaking in public. The students were even able to create a dance to remember the key points! My most proud moment came during this session, because the 4-H club officers had been hard at work for the past two weeks learning the Agriculture Creed. I was very proud of their ability to learn it so quickly, and also their willingness and eagerness to do so!
I led the last session, which was another hands-on lesson in which students were able to first learn about the heart and the importance of understanding human and animal health, and then were able to touch real cow and goat hearts to see where everything was! Along with the sessions, throughout the day fellows led various icebreakers and students were even able to teach their own original songs to the rest of the 4-H club.
Flashback to 2014, the inaugural AgriCorps class was hard at work in making this entire day possible. The 2014-2015 AgriCorps Fellows created the opening and closing ceremonies which my students were able to perform. This class of fellows also started leadership camps, which consisted of each fellow’s 4-H club holding a camp that contained lessons pertaining to agriculture science and leadership activities.
The 2015-2016 AgriCorps class built upon the previous class’ activities and fellows were able to hold the first official public speaking competition, where students were able to recite the opening and closing ceremonies and compete with public speaking techniques. Last year’s AgriCorps class took everything one step further and helped 4-H Ghana develop the National L.E.A.D. (leadership, education, agriculture, and development) competition, which included public speaking, debates, and other forms of leadership contests. Furthermore, all of this led to this year’s L.E.A.D. Workshop that has been able to take everything each class in the past has done to create workshops that can be duplicated across other 4-H clubs and other districts. These workshops will help students better understand agriculture as a science and business, and encourage students to participate in the annual National L.E.A.D Conference.
Overall, the event was a success thanks to the support of AgriCorps, our school staff, the Dobro Presby 4H club, and of course, the Fellows before us. A special thank you to Ripon Christian FFA Chapter for sponsoring this event. What a wonderful feeling it is to see the past 4 years come full circle, and to be a part of how AgriCorps is able to truly achieve an impact through agricultural education.
Carrie Stephens received a degree in Animal Science from North Carolina State University. Before becoming an AgriCorps Fellow Carrie interned with Elanco Animal Health and will continue employment with Elanco when she returns as part of the AgriCorps-Elanco co-recruitment partnership.