It is no secret that communication is a skill that is in high demand in the workplace. It is also a skill that requires confidence. That is one of the reasons why the Florida 4-H Positive Youth Development program intentionally targets the life skills of communication and confidence through every project and program. One program in particular has helped thousands of youth develop communication and confidence through public speaking.
In 1952, a public speaking program was established by a teacher in Palmetto, Florida. Tropicana Inc. adopted this program in 1969, and partnered with Florida 4-H to take the program statewide. The 4-H Tropicana Public Speaking Program is designed to help youth prepare and deliver a speech while growing confidence in their ability to communicate effectively. Annually over 150,000 youth in grades 4-6 from over 50 counties in Florida participate in this program.
Tropicana fully supports the public speaking contests on the school and county level by supplying lesson plans, certificates, ribbons, medals, and Tropicana orange juice. Tropicana also provides summer camp, scholarships to the 1st place winners at the county level. Local 4-H agents and volunteers coordinate the program at the county level. Currently, 13 counties in the Florida Panhandle also offer a district level completion that is sponsored by local civic clubs, UF IFAS, and FAMU.
The 4-H Tropicana Public Speaking Program has helped youth grow levels of confidence they never imagined possible. After the Walton County 4-H/Tropicana winners spoke at the local Kiwanis Club meeting, the 4-H office was swamped with requests for the youth to speak at other community events. As the youth began speaking to other groups, a fund was started for a District competition! It also opened the door for the youth to speak at the Annual Farm Bureau Meeting. The Walton County Farm Bureau members were so impressed, that they volunteered to help judge next year’s competition and also provided the necessary funding to make the 4-H District II Tropicana Public Speaking Program a reality! One 4-H parent shared:
“Honestly, he has been on cloud nine ever since. It was his first time to speak in front of people who were not his classmates or peers. We really credit 4-H with giving him the opportunities to step outside of his comfort zone and to realize that there is a big world out there.”
As you can see, 4-H GROWS CONFIDENCE by developing life skills resulting in youth who are prepared to be responsible citizens and productive members of the workforce. A recent study on positive youth development by Tufts University found that compared to their peers, youth involved in 4-H programs are four times more likely to make contributions to their communities and two times more likely to be civically active. For more information about how you can volunteer to help grow confidence in your local 4-H Program, contact your local UF IFAS Extension Office or visit http://florida4h.org.
Links for more information:
- Florida 4-H Communication Arts Programs (includes public speaking, photography, visual arts, filmmaking, and much more)
- 4-H/Tropicana Public Speaking Program