Many adults report a fear of public speaking. But for youth participating in the Florida 4-H Public Speaking Program, this important life skill is a chance to share what “sparks” their interest.
Starting this year, Florida 4-H will partner with Florida Power & Light Company (FPL) to bring these opportunities to more young people across the state.
Announced during the 2021 National 4-H Week, Oct. 3 to 9, FPL’s $100,000 gift will support the program over the next five years, funding supplies needed to hold the program in classrooms across the state, and culminating in classroom, school and county level contests.
The theme of this year’s National 4-H Week — Find Your Spark — captures the spirit of the public speaking program and FPL’s hopes for its future, said Pam Rauch, vice president for external affairs and economic development at FPL.
“For me, my spark is giving back to the community and working with organizations like 4-H to help develop our state’s future leaders,” Rauch said. “FPL is committed to providing our customers with clean, reliable and affordable energy, while supporting our communities and that includes our students. We are thrilled to partner with 4-H to strengthen and empower youth voices and give young people a space to share what inspires them.”
“Communicating your ideas to an audience is a critical life skill that will benefit students for years to come,” said Derby Sale, state 4-H youth citizenship and leadership coordinator. “We’re excited to partner with FPL, the Florida 4-H Foundation, county 4-H programs and local schools to get more students involved in this 4-H tradition.”
Formerly known as the 4-H Tropicana Public Speaking Contest, the program was established in 1952. Since then, millions of students have participated in the program, where they learn the fundamentals of preparing and giving a speech on a topic that interests them.
The public speaking contest is held at most schools in the spring and is open to fourth, fifth and sixth graders. Some schools also include grades seven and eight.
All participants start at the classroom level, where teachers help them develop their ideas into a 3 to 5-minute speech. The top three speechmakers from each classroom move on to the school-level competition. Finally, each school sends the top three students from each grade on to the county competition.
4-H is the youth development program of the land-grant university system and Cooperative Extension System. The program provides hands-on educational programs and experiences for youth ages 5 to 18 with the objective of developing them as individuals, and as responsible and productive citizens. In Florida, 4-H is administered by University of Florida/IFAS Extension and Florida A&M University, and serves approximately 200,000 youth annually. Learn more at florida4h.org.
For more information on the Florida 4-H Public Speaking Program in your community, contact your local UF/IFAS Extension office.