Thursday, August 11 2022

The Florida 4-H Youth Development Program offers a variety of academic enrichment programs. 4-H is a non-formal and educational Positive Youth Development (PYD) program offered to youth aged 5-18. All 4-H programs such as community clubs, residential camping, and school enrichment focus on active participation and quality educational experiences, which are provided by 4-H staff and volunteers. Academic enrichment is an important program area that served over 5,000 students in the 2020-21 school year.

One of the largest and longest-running academic enrichment programs offered by the 4-H County Program is the Lake County 4-H Public Speaking Contest. Since its inception in 1969, this program has been offered to more than one million students in grades four to six. This year, 25 schools participated in this event, with each school sending a winner to participate in the county-wide competition. Over 3,400 students participated; although this number is lower than in previous years, it is impressive considering the many forms of adapted learning that have taken place this year.

In traditional 2020-21 fashion, the county-wide competition takes a different approach from previous years. This year, students will be allocated a time slot to deliver their speech to a smaller audience, which will provide virtual opportunities for viewers. School classes were able to organize their speech contests in mixed mode: in person and virtual. Teachers and school staff have done a fabulous job pivoting education to meet the needs of students and families during the pandemic. Although it was a unique year, students could still give speeches in classrooms and schools.

Public speaking has been ranked in numerous studies as one of the greatest fears of all time; the idea of ​​standing in front of a group and talking gave many courageous individuals a reason to step back. Teaching children public speaking skills will help them prepare and encourage them to overcome fear of public speaking. Studies have shown that students’ level of public speaking anxiety decreases over time when participating in public speaking classes.

According to a study by sociologist Andrew Zekeri, oral communication skills were one of the main skills college graduates found useful in the business world. While oral communication skills are useful in the workplace, effective communication has many benefits. Other benefits include an increase in critical thinking, written communication, and leadership skills, and most importantly, it can help increase a student’s self-esteem.

Another positive benefit of public speaking is that it helps students build their confidence. While it can be nerve-racking to give the first speech, you will experience a sense of accomplishment and perhaps relief once you are done. Judges should provide positive and educational feedback to help you grow and gain confidence in your speaking skills. As young people practice public speaking, their skills will continue to improve and they will feel more comfortable in their ability to speak well.

The Lake County 4-H Public Speaking Contest is March 2; 17 young people from across Lake County will compete and show off their public speaking skills. For more information on Lake County 4-H’s educational enrichment programs, please contact Dallas Meringolo at

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