URBANA, Ill. – More than 75% of adults rank public speaking as their number one fear, but not 4-H members. 4-H excels in preparing youth to speak well and confidently, and it is a skill that serves members for a lifetime. Over 100 youth recently came together to put their public speaking skills to the test during the June Illinois 4-H State Public Speaking Contest in Decatur, IL.
4-H excels in preparing youth to speak well and confidently, and it is a skill that serves members for a lifetime. Youth who participate in this yearly exhibit develop skills for communicating real-life issues to live audiences and receive professional and peer feedback. Youth ages 8 to 18 learn how to organize and prepare a speech, develop speech delivery skills, and how to present themselves in front of an audience.
“This contest focuses on public speaking, but it’s so much more,” says Katie Duitsman, University of Illinois Extension 4-H youth development leadership specialist. “The discipline of public speaking also inherently builds self-esteem and leadership skills, all of which are skills that youth can use for a lifetime.”
Public speaking is an important part of the overall 4-H experience. Throughout the year, 4-H members give talks and demonstrations at community club meetings and share information about the skills they learned in a project while receiving feedback in a supportive environment. Every 4-H member is also encouraged to give at least one formal presentation during a club meeting each year.
The Statewide Public Speaking Contest gives youth an opportunity to exhibit their skills in a live competition while receiving both professional and peer feedback.
In the Formal Speech Division, youth share their perspective on a topic of their choice with a speech intended to motivate, persuade, or inform an audience.
In the Formal Speech Junior Division, Abigail Patrick of Marion County placed first, with second place going to Tyler Vonderheide of Shelby County, and third place to Anna Bremer of Massac County. In the Formal Speech Senior Division, Elizabeth Reed of Fulton County placed first, with second place going to Cavit Schempp of Logan County, and third place to Rachel Lands of Saline County.
In the Illustrated Division, speeches may inform, persuade, or motivate the audience with the use of a visual aid and may include audience participation. Haven Pierson of Bureau County placed first, with second place going to Andrea Schaffnit of Adams County, and third place to Addie Gjelsten of Lake County.
In the Oral Interpretation Division, presentations must be previously published works or manuscripts with youth competing individually and in teams.
In the Oral Interpretation Individual Division, Onneste Adams of Bureau County placed first, with second place going to Emma Schnitzler of Kankakee County, and third place to Kevin Kapelski of St. Clair County. In the Oral Interpretation Teams Division, Cecilia and Maria Ochs of Kane County placed first, with second place going to Lola Reed and Daphne Slusser of Jersey County, and third place to Chris and Emma Smith of Grundy County.
In the Original Works Division, presentations must be published works, and manuscripts or transcripts.
In the Original Works Individual Division, Fiona Holtz of DeKalb County placed first, with second place going to Molly Dittmer of Lake County, and third place to Hope Kapelski of St. Clair County. In the Original Works Team Division, Justin Irwin and Lars Carlson of Boone County placed first, with second place going to Emily Lyle and Zoey Cieszynski of Kankakee County.
To learn more about public speaking training opportunities in 4-H, please contact your local Extension office.
COMPEER Financial provided financial support for this program.
About Illinois 4-H: Illinois 4-H is the flagship youth development program of University of Illinois Extension and administered through the College of Agriculture, Consumer, and Environmental Sciences. 4-H grows true leaders, youth who are empowered for life today and prepared for a career tomorrow. The hands-on approach in 4-H gives young people guidance, tools, and encouragement, and then puts them in the driver’s seat to make great things happen. Independent research confirms the unparalleled impact of the 4-H experience, demonstrating that young people are four times more likely to contribute to their communities; two times more likely to make healthier choices; two times more likely to be civically active; and two times more likely to participate in STEM programs.
About Extension: Illinois Extension leads public outreach for University of Illinois by translating research into action plans that allow Illinois families, businesses, and community leaders to solve problems, make informed decisions, and adapt to changes and opportunities.