Jessica Parker was taken by surprise when she heard the news that she was chosen as the 2021 Southeast Region 4-H Volunteer of the Year. This National 4-H Council honor is bestowed upon a 4-H volunteer. Parker was nominated by Franklin Parish 4-H Agent Kelly Lafferty.
“Through creating an inclusive environment, her programs inspire youth to adopt a welcoming attitude, and as a result, her youth learn to appreciate the diversity of all people,” Lafferty wrote. Parker “always looks to the positive” and encourages the youth to do the same as a 4-H Club leader and Spanish teacher at Franklin Parish High School.
By encouraging the youth to become more involved in their community, Parker said they become motivated to help others and will eventually become productive citizens, benefiting all who live in that community. From participating in canned food drives to visiting nursing homes, she pushes her 4-H’ers to become involved. Parker is also looking forward to her stepson Dakota taking on more leadership roles in 4-H as he moves into the high school club this year. “I really want to increase our club’s numbers this year, and maybe Dakota can help with that aspect,” Parker said.
Parker balances her responsibilities by utilizing 4-H Club officers. By asking them to assist with duties of 4-H Club meetings and assigning them tasks, Parker said it “helps the youth have a sense of empowerment” and encourages them to feel a sense of ownership. Her goal for the 2021-22 school year is to hold club meetings face to face after having to meet virtually during the COVID-19 pandemic. Throughout the pandemic, Parker tried her best to remain in contact with the 4-H’ers. She used Google Classroom to keep in touch with them and disseminate information but would really like a more personal connection with them this year.
“She is a wonderful role model for the 4-H Club members,” Lafferty said. “As Jessica Parker continues to serve as a role model for the youth in Franklin Parish, she truly shows us how to use our head, heart, hands and health to make Louisiana 4-H a place for everyone.”
The LSU AgCenter and the LSU College of Agriculture