Karol Osborne | 4/25/2019 1:22:31 PM
(04/25/19) ALEXANDRIA, La. — Public speaking may trigger sweaty palms or nervous butterflies for some, but for students competing in the annual state 4-H Commodity Ambassador Contest, it is an exhilarating experience they look forward to all year.
“I really worked hard, and I like public speaking. I think it is really fun. It gets me super excited,” said Gabriella Cieutat, a fifth grader from Tangipahoa Parish.
The contest drew 49 competitors in grades four through 12 from across the state and was held April 22 at the Louisiana State Evacuation Shelter in Alexandria.
Youth presenters take on topics about production, processing, marketing, food safety and food preparation and nutritive value in five agricultural commodity groups: chicken, egg, turkey, seafood and sugar.
For the event, 4-H’ers research topics, prepare oral presentations and create visual aids such as posters or digital slide shows to present in front of judges and their peers.
Dodson High School agriculture teacher Melinda Miles said the contest makes important classroom connections for her students.
“They take the knowledge they learn in the classroom and put it to practical use,” Miles said. “It is a win-win situation.”
LSU AgCenter 4-H animal science specialist Crystal Ahrens said youth participants learn skills that will allow for greater success at school and in their future careers.
“The commodity ambassador contest provides youth an exciting opportunity to improve skills such as researching a topic area, speech writing and the ability to communicate about agriculture,” Ahrens said.
“I like the competition and experience, and the people are very supportive,” said Jefferson Parish sixth grader Kinzie Brassell, who looks forward to competing in other public speaking contests in 4-H and FFA.
John-Michael Shiner, a Vermilion Parish sophomore, credits 4-H with introducing him to public speaking when he was younger.
“You can always learn from others and your own experience,” Shiner said, adding that his parents often video him practicing his presentations. “When you watch yourself, it is very helpful.”
The contest offers three age-appropriate divisions for youth competitors with cash prizes for the first-place winners in Division I (fourth to sixth grade) and Division II (seventh to ninth grade).
First-place winners in Division III (10th to 12th grade) in the egg, turkey and chicken contests go on to compete at the National 4-H Poultry and Egg Conference in Louisville, Kentucky, while seafood and sugar contest first place winners earn a spot on the 4-H educational trip to Chattanooga, Tennessee.
The 2019 state winners are:
Division I — Madelyn Fossum, Lafourche Parish.
Division II — Victoria Couvillion, Lafayette Parish.
Division III — Kylee Triche, Lafourche Parish.
Division I — Austin James, Vernon Parish.
Division II — Gabe Fontenot, Evangeline Parish.
Division III — John-Michael Shiner, Vermilion Parish.
Division I — Noah Granger, Calcasieu Parish.
Division II — Kinsey Waits, Vermilion Parish.
Division III — Megan Chaisson, Lafourche Parish.
Division I — Matthew Plaisance, Lafourche Parish.
Division II — Morgan Green, Sabine Parish.
Division III — Julia Thompson, Lafayette Parish.
Division I — Gabriella Cieutat, Tangipahoa Parish.
Division II — Bailor Brown, Winn Parish.
Division III — Alex Meche, St. Martin Parish.
The state 4-H Commodity Ambassador Contest is sponsored by the Louisiana 4-H Foundation.
Madelyn Fossum, of Lafourche Parish, took home a first-place win for her presentation on chicken production at the state 4-H Commodity Ambassador Contest April 22 at the Louisiana State Evacuation Shelter in Alexandria. Photo by Karol Osborne/LSU AgCenter
Tangipahoa Parish fifth grader Gabriella Cieutat said she had so much fun competing last year in the chicken division at the state 4-H Commodity Ambassador Contest that she wanted to return and try for a second win in the turkey division in the 2019 competition April 22 at the Louisiana State Evacuation Shelter in Alexandria. Photo by Karol Osborne/LSU AgCenter
Gabriel McKee, a sixth grader from Vernon Parish, raises and shows chickens in 4-H. He said talking about chicken processing from farm-to-table at the 2019 state 4-H Commodity Ambassador Contest April 22 at the Louisiana State Evacuation Shelter in Alexandria was a perfect connection to his 4-H project. Photo by Karol Osborne/LSU AgCenter