"How have I helped 4-H youth?"
With his shoulders back, chest out and eyes locked with a set of judges, this is how Taylor Riley began his extemporaneous speech Thursday afternoon during the Jefferson City Jaycees Cole County 4-H public speaking contest.
Riley, a Helias Catholic High School senior and member of the Taos Clovers 4-H Club, has participated in the public speaking contest for five years.
There are five public speaking categories in 4-H, including prepared, extemporaneous, technology-assisted, dramatic interpretation and humorous interpretation. Riley said his favorite is extemporaneous, where members have only 15 minutes to choose a prompt from a list of three and prepare their speech before performing in front of the judges.
In his speech this year, Riley discussed his involvement as a youth leader for small ruminants, 4-H Camp counselor, and state and national shooting sports ambassador.
As a junior leader for small ruminants of five years, Riley helps younger 4-H members raise and prepare their goats and sheep for showing at the county fair, often providing his family's land.
"For the kids who don't have the ability to have their sheep or goats at home, because they live in an urban area or don't have fencing, we offer our space and they use that and it works out so much better for them," Riley said.
When he initially joined 4-H eight years ago, Riley began by showing goats and sheep, and while he doesn't show anymore, he said he enjoys helping the younger members learn how to properly bathe and set up the animals.
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When he's not on his own farm, Riley can be found working with those in the 4-H community, across the state and nation.
Riley said although the workload of a 4-H Camp counselor was tougher than he expected, he thoroughly enjoyed his time as a counselor during the 2018 and 2019 summer camps.
Not a "camp kid" himself, Riley said he often found himself asking other counselors, who had grown up at camp, for advice but was welcomed with open arms.
"That was something I really learned; don't be afraid to say, 'I've got no idea what I am doing,'" Riley said with a laugh. "(The other counselors) were more than happy to help and it's really all about the kids, giving them the greatest experience you can."
Another experience Riley said he has enjoyed is being a state and national shooting sports ambassador for the past two years. As an ambassador, he helps promote shooting sport events, manage the Missouri State Shoot, and prepare the state awards ceremony for participating youth.
Through his involvement in a multitude of areas in 4-H, Riley said he is thankful for the opportunities and experiences he has gained through the organization.
4-H public speaking contest teaches life skillsRead more
"4-H gives you loads of opportunities that you can choose as a youth," Riley said. "You can figure out what you like and experience it or experience that you don't like it and you may never want to do it again. But, you learned about it, know about it and that's a big thing.
"I don't know where I'd be if I didn't have the opportunities that 4-H has given me," he said.
Riley's accomplishments and ability to present them in a professional, timely manner impressed yesterday's judges, as he was awarded a blue ribbon in second place. He has the opportunity to compete at the state public speaking contest, alongside Clover Crusaders 4-H club member Eileen Shafer.
Enjoyed this feature? Check out other Faces of the Fair: Eileen Shafer, Toni Haselhorst, Jessica Koenigsfeld, Garrett Holtgrewe and Madisyn Suess. The News Tribune will feature a new person every day during the Jefferson City Jaycees Cole County Fair, so watch for more faces!Gallery: PHOTO GALLERY: Jefferson City Jaycees Cole County Fair