Public speaking is an important skill for school, work and life, but many Americans have anxiety about presenting information to an audience. Through 4-H, youth are encouraged to develop communication and public speaking skills through presentations.
Members who want to hone those skills further enter the annual Public Presentation and Demonstration Contest.
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On May 9 at the University of Illinois Extension office in St. Charles, Kane County 4-H members presented speeches and demonstrations on a variety of topics ranging from alternative energy sources to missionary trips to baking biscuits.
"The Public Presentation 4-H project helps youth learn how to prepare a speech and how to deliver it comfortably to an audience," said Doris Braddock, 4-H Youth Development Program Coordinator. "It's about learning clarity of purpose, content or knowledge of their subject and organization. It gives them practice in front of a group and teaches poise, voice quality, and gives them confidence. All are important skills they can use throughout many facets of life."
At this year's Kane County competition, youth presented in front of fellow 4-H members, an audience and volunteer judges -- local high school teacher Fran Stephens and Larry Modaff, professor of communications at Waubonsee Community College.
Speeches may be given in one of the following formats: formal, illustrated, demonstration, oral interpretation or original works.
Three youth earned the honor to present at the State Fair in August. They are: Emily Smeenge of Rolling Meadows for Formal Speech; Marcos Marquez of St. Charles for Illustrated Speech; and Madde Klinkey of St. Charles for Original Works.
In the same categories, State Fair Alternates are Madde Klinkey, Willem Vandermeij of Geneva and Gwen Klinkey of St. Charles, respectively.
Grand Champion Public Presentation honors went to Willem Vandermeij for the 8-12 age group and Madde Klinkey in the 13-18 age group. Reserve Grand Champions were Gwen Klinkey and Marcos Marquez. Ely Greenfeld of Elgin took home Grand Champion Food Demonstration honors.
Public Presentation is just one of the many 4-H projects youth may enroll in, Braddock said. There are hundreds of 4-H project areas, ranging from science and robotics to animals and livestock to arts and humanities, to name just a few.
For more information on the 4-H program in Kane County, contact Program Coordinator Doris Braddock at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit web.extension.illinois.edu/dkk/.