Brave 4-H’ers wow judges with speaking, coping skills
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.
1st — Jace Begay, Levi & Calico 4-H Club
2nd — Kody Garcia, Dreamweaver 4-H Club
3rd — Harli Garcia, Dreamweaver
1st — Sakari Frazier, Shiprock 4-H Club
2nd — Tatum Lantana, Dreamweaver
1st — Alexsis Jackson, Borderland Wrangler 4-H Club
2nd — Kynlie Platero, Los Rachero 4-H Club
3rd — Braylon Frazier, Shiprock
1st — Adrianna Jackson, Borderland Wrangler
2nd — Kristan Begay, Central Navajo 4-H Club
3rd — Jace Begay, Levi & Calico
4th — Kody Garcia, Dreamweaver
1st — Tatum Lantana, Dreamweaver
2nd — Sakari Frazier, Shiprock
1st — Braylon Frazier, Shiprock
2nd — Alexsis Jackson, Borderland Wrangler
3rd — Kynlie Platero, Los Rachero