Regional Corner: Southwest Region
Of all of the regions in Louisiana 4-H, no region has a more diverse culture, delicious cuisine, joi de vivre or active 4-H membership than the Southwest Region. Home to more 4-H'ers than any other region in the state, we stretch from the outback of Louisiana in Cameron Parish, to the shores of Terrebonne Bay in Lafourche Parish, to the banks of the mighty Mississippi in West Baton Rouge Parish, all the way back to the lake shore of Lake Charles in Calcasieu Parish. The region passes through the rice fields of Jeff Davis Parish, crawfish ponds of St. Martin Parish, salt mines of Iberia Parish, cattle pastures of Vermillion Parish, sugarcane fields of St. Mary Parish and bustling towns in between.
Not only is this region deeply steeped in Cajun, Creole, Native American, African-American and other cultures, we also have deep roots in 4-H. Our region boasts numerous members of state boards who take the skills they are acquiring back home to help lead our vibrant and strong Junior Leader Clubs in the region. The region is also home to strong Shooting Sports Programs, Food and Fitness Clubs, SET Clubs, Fashion Clubs, Marsh Maneuvers, various cookeries, Volunteer Leader Training and our newest event – SWRLS. The inaugural Southwest Regional Leadership Summit (SWRLS) will take place on February 23, 2013. This event, planned by youth, will attempt to help introduce 4-H'ers from 7th-9th grade about statewide opportunities, leadership skills, and other great topics.
By Robert Lancon
Agent Spotlight: Ruby Miller
I became a 4-H agent in 2007 after many years as a classroom teacher. As an agent, I still teach...but a few differences are that my classroom can be anywhere I believe it needs to be, and I don't have to issue grades to my 4-H members. (Can you imagine getting a grade in 4-H?)
I would never deny there are many rewarding aspects of my job. I get incredible joy in seeing the differences made as our 4-H youth gain new insights, find a possible career path through a 4-H program and become more confident while learning about themselves. Every day, I have an opportunity to touch the future by developing programs that are relevant to the 4-H members in my parish and state. I try very hard to foster creativity, develop character and give youth lenses with which to view the world, especially when it comes to service learning, because I know that kids want to make a clear, real difference in the lives of others.
There are also challenges in this career that take real courage to overcome. For example, having a banana and a bottle of water during Challenge Camp snack time instead of a Coke and Krispy Kreme doughnuts, just because it is healthier and we want to be excellent role models. Also, resisting the urge to cut doughnuts in the middle of the camp parade grounds on the new 4-H golf cart while transporting adult volunteers between tracks, just because....well you know.
4-H agents wake early, smile a lot, give praise and encouragement, and seem to have an endless supply of energy. We do what we do because of kids! I am proud to work for the LSU AgCenter as a 4-H youth development agent.
Written by: Ruby Miller
Michelle Gaspard has been married for 20 years to Marshall Gaspard. They have 3 boys: Austin, age 16; Adam, age 14, and Ashton, age 11. Michelle has a very strong connection to 4-H. 4-H has always been a part of her life; she cannot remember life without it. Both her parents were 4-H leaders, and she and her siblings were very active members. Michelle’s 4-H years in school were very exciting. She won numerous trips and awards. But the most rewarding parts of 4-H for Michelle were the life long friendships, the places she visited and all the many different things she learned along the way. Michelle states, “I love that 4-H has something for everyone. Through 4-H activities, contest and projects you learn real life skills.” When Michelle joined 4-H in the 4th grade, she was a very shy person. Through all the leadership opportunities and activities 4-H offers, she became a more confident leader.
Michelle is often asked why she decided to be a 4-H leader. Her answer: “That’s easy. I have seen first-hand how beneficial 4-H is to one's life. I enjoy seeing my boys, and all the youth which I help, grow into mature & responsible adults through 4-H. It’s wonderful to see them learn leadership and management skills that will benefit them every day of their lives. I believe 4-H truly makes a difference and would like to encourage other adults to help get our youth involved in 4-H.”
Written by: Austin Gaspard