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Lee County youth heading to National Congress in Georgia

By Staff | Nov 25, 2008

SPECIAL TO THE DAILY BREEZE Korina Chilcoat and Randy James pose with their certificates signifying their selection to attend the 4H National Congress in Atlanta.

Two Lee County teens are getting a rare opportunity, a chance to represent the county at a national 4H congress in Atlanta this weekend.

Out of the 100 students who applied for the opportunity to attend the National Congress, only Randy James of North Fort Myers and Korina Chilcoat of Cape Coral were selected as finalists.

Their selection was based on interviews and portfolio submissions, as well as their professional appearance, leadership skills, goals and community service.

“I’m overwhelmed, this is the first thing I’ve traveled out of state for,” said James, a senior at North Fort Myers High. “I’ve never been to Atlanta, so it’s going to be exciting to see the whole big city thing.”

Born and raised in Lee County, James has been a part of 4H for 12 years. He has been active in livestock as well as learned about the Legislature in Tallahassee, where he was selected to go to the National Congress.

“4H has taught me so many things,” James said. “It taught me public speaking, taught me how to deal with people, how to evolve and change my own ways.”

4H is a nationwide program focusing on developing citizenship, leadership and life skills of young people, mostly through experiential learning programs. Started in the early 20th century, 4H now has more than 6 million active members around the country.

The four H’s stand for: head, heart, hands and health.

Traditionally, 4H is thought to cater to agricultural communities and activities, but more recently 4H has diversified its offerings, focusing on citizenship, healthy living, science, engineering and technology programs.

Chilcoat is one of the multiple 4H members who has taken advantage of the new programs, studying marine science.

A home-schooled student and 4H member for four years, Chilcoat has not decided if marine science is a field she will pursue in higher education, instead she is thinking about journalism as a potential career path.

She was “doubling up on school” Tuesday to prepare for her trip to Atlanta, which leaves Friday.

She said she is excited about the trip, specifically the opportunity to tour the CNN building, and the opportunity to meat other 4H members.

“I’m enjoying the moment and preparing for the future,” she said of her time with 4H. “If you’re really interested in it, try and find it in your county. It’s a wonderful opportunity. You don’t know the opportunities until you get involved.”

Chilcoat’s mother, Debbie, is proud of the strides her daughter has made as a member of the program.

A cadets leader, Debbie Chilcoat said she is happy her daughter will represent Lee County in Atlanta.

“It has given my daughter a lot of opportunity,” Chilcoat said. “It has given her a lot of leadership skills.”

For more information on 4H, visit: www.4-H.org.’>www.4-H.org.