First UMC Crockett 4-H Club Builds Impressive Leaders

Date Posted: 7/9/2015

Lawson Hamilton could be on the posters that promote the Texas 4-H program. Active in this youth development program since the young age of 5, he can look back as a current college student and see the impact his involvement has made on his present day skill set, confidence, his choice of career, and likely his future. And it all began at his home church: First UMC, Crockett.
“Many of these youth development clubs meet in churches,” notes Lawson’s mom, Kay, who began serving as an adult volunteer with the program at her home church when her oldest daughter was young. Leadership development is the foundational cornerstone of the program, she says, and every county in Texas has multiple chapters. Through a series of projects and events, students in 3rd-12th grade can learn by participating in the Leadership Lab or Outdoor, Fitness or Food Challenges. “Almost every program has a public speaking component,” Kay adds. “I’ve seen my children and many others participate in the Parliamentary Procedure contest, as well as competitive events teaching them about livestock, wildlife, and technology. I am very thankful that First UMC, Crockett has always been supportive of youth organizations. Most places charge for meeting space, but our church has supplied it at no charge for more than a decade.”

Impressive Results
Compared to those not involved, the 250,000+ youth that participate in the Texas 4-H youth development program are 4 times more likely to graduate from college, 4 times more likely to contribute to their communities, 3 times more likely to be physically active and 2 times more likely to pursue careers in science, engineering or computers.
“I really grew up in the 4-H club,” shares Lawson, “and I stuck with it, even into my college years, because I want to be well rounded. This program has taught me about nutrition, photography, natural resources, music, consumer decision making, and public speaking.” He practiced what he learned by being president at the local level for four years and at the county level for two more years. “I was selected to go to the National    4-H Congress in Washington D.C. where I contributed to the discussions around policy related to food and scholarships.”
Adds Lawson, “Now that I am at Texas A&M, I am in the Collegiate 4-H Club hoping to give back to the program. We are working now on a program we could take on the road to help members understand how to apply for college scholarships.” He was president of his Collegiate Club in 2014 and also worked summer camps at the Texas 4-H Center, including one for special needs children. Lawson is well underway toward his goal of a political science degree, and possibly law school. “Through 4-H, I discovered that I enjoy organizational leadership and public speaking.”
Opportunity for Churches
Youth from across the county have historically participated in the 4-H group meeting at First UMC, Crockett. “A few of the participating families have eventually joined the church,” he shares, “and the experience for many over the years has given a positive view of the Methodist church, something I have always appreciated.” To learn how to start a club at your church or to seek further information go to 4HConnect, a web-based system used to enroll youth and adults in Texas 4-H. Annual enrollment procedures may vary in each county, so you can also check with your local County Extension Office for more information.