Before the medals and the ribbons and the physical manifestations of success, there is a club, a meeting, an adult, a friend that changes the life of a youth. That gives them the confidence to believe in themselves. Someone that they can look to as an example to follow. The Oxford dictionary defines a role model as “a person looked to by others as an example to be imitated”. In the midst of the social media culture, where people have the potential to drastically influence a person’s life without ever holding a conversation, it is essential that youth have positive role models who will guide them in an ever changing society.
Organizations like 4-H, where programming is highly reliant on the dedication of volunteers, there are innumerable individuals who function as role models. Though there are many individuals, I have often found that most great role models function in similar manners and styles. Though each style is as unique as each person, more important is the fact that each individual has an impact on the youth around them, consciously or not. As the leader of the county wide Leadership Club, Angela Tinker is a positive role model and a consistent presence in the lives of the youth she works with.
The Shepherd: Angela Tinker
The role of the shepherd is to look after the safety and welfare of their flock. As youth grow older and near the completion of their 4-H careers, youth not only want to demonstrate their independence, but they need a safe environment in which to do it. They also need individuals who will lead them, and more importantly who will lead them by example.
Angela Tinker exemplifies a shepherd. She has worked as an Escambia County 4-H volunteer for eleven years, and over the course of her tenure, she has worked with younger youth as well as teenagers. She continues to lead the Leadership club where she works with teenagers. When asked why she continues to serve as a volunteer, even though both of her daughters have graduated and moved on from the program, Angela responded, “seeing the little successes, which turn into big successes.” It is her passion to cultivate an environment in which the little successes of everyday emerge as life altering successes that enables her to be the role model these youth see when working with her.
Angela is a role model that leads by quietly tending to the youth she works with, and by ensuring that they have the best opportunities to grow and build their skills. As budding adults, the youth Angela works with are in some of the most formative years of their lives. Everything and everyone that these youth encounter shapes them in one way or another. It is the positive role models like Angela who ensure that our youth have the best chance to develop into the best person possible. Angela is “Making the Best, Better” every day.