Public Presentations Prepare Youth For Life
Nearly 60 Steuben 4-H members recently practiced this life skill

If you were to ask most adults what causes the most anxiety, there is a high likelihood they will respond with “public speaking.”  Many people feel uncomfortable and anxious just thinking about getting in front of a group of people and speak.  Luckily, Steuben County youth are practicing and fine tuning their public speaking skills through the 4-H Public Presentations Program.

On Saturday February 22, approximately 60 youth presented on various topics, ranging from agriculture to careers to poetry recitation, to volunteer judges.  4-Hers, ages 5-18, came to present individually on topics they had prepared.  Judges provided positive and constructive feedback to the youth to help them grow and be prepared for their next presentation.  Judges included volunteers from 4-H and Toastmasters, a national group that helps adults with public speaking skills.   4-H plans to hold two more days for Public Presentations throughout the year in 2020.

This program is one of the primary focus areas for Steuben County 4-H and is considered one of the most beneficial and rewarding 4-H experiences. It is the program most often credited by 4-H alumni as having given them an edge above peers in both college and professional careers. When former members of 4-H are asked what helped them the most in preparing for their adult years, the answer is often doing public presentations because it prepared them to organize information and be able to get up in front of a group at work, in the community or at a club meeting and feel comfortable.

Youth who receive an outstanding score or recommendation at the county level are invited to participate at the District Level where youth from eight neighboring counties compete for top honors while receiving feedback from those evaluators as well.  Lastly, there is a New York State level event held at Cornell University where invitees have the opportunity to present as well as participate in additional workshops such as persuasive speaking and interviewing.

Steuben County’s 4-H program has seen great success in having multiple youth attend the state level event for several consecutive years.  This success, however would not be possible without the hardworking club leaders and parents who know the value of public speaking as a life skill and help youth plan and prepare their presentation.  Whether in the form of brain storming ideas, putting together a poster, or listening to hours and hours of rehearsal, it is all in the name of youth development.  While 4-H is well known for the role it plays in helping youth learn about agriculture, there are many other subjects around 4-H that any youth can participate in that are non-agriculture related.  The theme that ties all 4-Hers together includes using Heads, Heart, Hands and Health to have life skills to grow as youth into successful and thriving adults.

If you’d like more information about 4-H and the Public Presentation Program, please visit or call 607-664-2300.

Above, Christopher Elliott of the Kickin Kountry Kids 4-H Club in Bath delivers his talk on How To Make Rough Cut Lumber

Additional photos of the Presentations can be found here: