It's always among the top things people say they dread doing — speaking in public.
To get young people used to the experience of talking to people they may not know, a public speaking contest is held every year as part of the Cole County Fair at the Jefferson City Jaycees Fairgrounds. This year's event took place Thursday in the main exhibition hall on the fairgrounds.
Diane Temmen, youth program associate for the 4-H program in Cole County with University of Missouri Extension, said this event qualifies youth to the Missouri 4-H Public Speaking Contest, to be held this fall at the University of Missouri. Participants give a five- to seven-minute prepared speech, then they speak extemporaneously on a topic of their choosing for 15 minutes.
"4-H is about teaching life skills, and one of those skills you need to have is to speak in public," Temmen said. "Lots of 4-H members have said when they get to a job interview, they find it's easier for them to talk to a potential employer because they've had these experiences."
Troy Ludwig, of the Jefferson City 4-H Club, won the prepared speaking contest.
Eileen Shafer, of the Clovers Crusaders 4-H Cub, won the extemporaneous contest.
Emma Sandbothe, a 4-H member from Taos who will be a sophomore at Blair Oaks High School, spoke on bullying and said she and her friends had experienced it.
Story continues below video
"It hurts me to see my friends have to go through this," Sandbothe said. "I'd been wanting to talk about it for a long time, and I finally gained the courage and experience to talk about it."
Sandbothe said Thursday's event was a release for her to be able to talk about an important subject to her.
"I love doing public speaking," Sandbothe said. "I do it in Future Business Leaders of America as well, and I went to state for that. I've always been comfortable with public speaking, but I'm starting to really get comfortable with it now."
Sandbothe said she plans to go to law school after she graduates from college so she can become a family lawyer.
Taylor Riley, also a 4-H member from Taos, will be a senior at Helias Catholic High School. He talked about what he had done for youth while in 4-H.
"I was a leader trying to teach kids coming into the program how to work with their animals because that's something a lot of people just don't know," Riley said. "We went through with them about how to show your animals, clean them and just taking care of your animals the best that they can."
Riley also talked about his experience as a 4-H camp counselor. He said he never had done it and wanted to get the experience.
"I learned a lot, and the kids had a blast, and that's what camp is all about," Riley said. "I also talked about the 4-H shooting sports ambassador program because it's one of my favorites. It's for the youth and run by the youth."
Riley said his father got him into the public speaking contest.
"He told me, 'You have to have this skill," Riley said. "I could never have been able to do it without working on it through 4-H. It's something I try to improve on every day. I'm working on extemporaneous speaking so I can think on the fly. It's a difficult thing, but I'm having a blast doing it."