Brave 4-H’ers wow judges with speaking, coping skills

Brave 4-H’ers wow judges with speaking, coping skills

WINDOW ROCK

Everyone knows 4-H’ers are brave. They pour their blood, sweat and tears into an animal for a year only to lead it to the auction block, knowing that in a few days the pal they raised from a suckling will be nothing but a lump of meat. But the bravest 4-H’ers of all are the ones who compete in public speaking.

I mean, a public speaking gig puts fear into the hearts even of most adults. Imagine you’re 9, 12, 14 years old and you have to give a speech in front of a bunch of adults. Granted, “bunch” might be an exaggeration, since it’s pretty much your parents and your competitors’ parents who attend 4-H public speaking competitions at the Navajo Nation Fair. But still.

Those who weren’t there missed a lot. Although it was sometimes painful to watch, the kids had some pretty amazing coping skills for their jitters. “I just pretend there’s nobody there, like I’m just talking to my parents,” confided Braylon Frazier, 9, who muscled through a slight speech impediment to pull off phrases like “sifted all-purpose flour” in his demonstration on making baking powder biscuits.

Here are some other tips to survive a public speaking engagement, based on the kids’ performance at the fair Thursday evening:

• If things are not going well, giggle disarmingly.

• If you finish way before your allotted time runs out, just go all stream-of-consciousness. The judges love that.

• If you’re doing a cooking demonstration, bribe the judges with your finished product (unless, as in the case of Kynlie Platero and her healthy salad, the Styrofoam bowls blow away and you have to make the judges share salad out of the same bowl).

• Make ’em laugh, as 14-year-old Jace Begay did when he regaled the crowd with the exploits of his naughty show goat.

• When all else fails, take a page from Kynlie’s book and tell the truth. “I forgot what I was going to say!” she admitted in the middle of her salad prep, adding for good measure, “I practiced this like a million times!”

It’s enough to make one wonder why any self-respecting kid would put himself through this. Kody Garcia, 15, had obviously given it some thought. Normally, he said, kids rely a lot on adults to speak for them. “But in the future, when you go to college, your parents won’t be there,” he reflected. “You’re going to have to learn to speak in front of people like professors.”

Garcia says he always feels a little “skittish” before a speaking gig, but he warms to his audience. “You see everyone smiling, listening, paying attention to you, and you feel more comfortable,” he said.

Now there’s a lesson for the adults in the crowd: Much like grown ups, kids like being listened to. Who knew? And you don’t have to wait until your kid is on the podium to do it. Here are the results of the demonstration and public speaking contests.

Demonstration

Senior

1st — Jace Begay, Levi & Calico 4-H Club

2nd — Kody Garcia, Dreamweaver 4-H Club

3rd — Harli Garcia, Dreamweaver

Junior

1st — Sakari Frazier, Shiprock 4-H Club

2nd — Tatum Lantana, Dreamweaver

Novice

1st — Alexsis Jackson, Borderland Wrangler 4-H Club

2nd — Kynlie Platero, Los Rachero 4-H Club

3rd — Braylon Frazier, Shiprock

Public Speaking

Senior

1st — Adrianna Jackson, Borderland Wrangler

2nd — Kristan Begay, Central Navajo 4-H Club

3rd — Jace Begay, Levi & Calico

4th — Kody Garcia, Dreamweaver

Junior

1st — Tatum Lantana, Dreamweaver

2nd — Sakari Frazier, Shiprock

Novice

1st — Braylon Frazier, Shiprock

2nd — Alexsis Jackson, Borderland Wrangler

3rd — Kynlie Platero, Los Rachero



About The Author

Cindy Yurth

Cindy Yurth is the Tséyi' Bureau reporter, covering the Central Agency of the Navajo Nation. Her other beats include agriculture and Arizona state politics. She holds a bachelor’s degree in technical journalism from Colorado State University with a cognate in geology. She has been in the news business since 1980 and with the Navajo Times since 2005, and is the author of “Exploring the Navajo Nation Chapter by Chapter.” She can be reached at cyurth@navajotimes.com.