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JIS News

When 19-year-old Petra Gaye Morris joined the Lauriston and Thompson Pen community 4-H Club in March of 2005, it was out of curiosity. She had no idea that in just over a year, she would have been elected as president of the club and chosen as the national 4-H Girl of the Year for 2006.
“It is such a wonderful feeling to have been selected as the 4-H girl of the year,” she tells JIS News. “It is a great feeling to be representing young people in my peer group and just to know that other young people felt proud enough to embrace me after I won the competition; it is so good,” she adds.
As the president of her club and the 2006 4-H girl of the year, the 19 year-old says she intends to work very hard to positively influence the lives of young people especially those living in Spanish Town. “Spanish Town is marred because of violence and I think it is my responsibility to groom young people to have that self-confidence and to just love themselves in a time and age like this, when young people don’t value life anymore or positive things about life. I just want to ensure that my clubbites have that so that. they have something positive in life to look forward to,” she says.
The 4-H Movement, Petra Gaye points out, has been making strides in assisting youths to achieve their goals. “At times, many young people leave school and have nothing to do so they end up getting involved in the wrong things. The club gave me my ‘big buss’ as Jamaicans would say, and the chance to show other people that I had talent and skills. I even got a chance to participate in the national youth parliament; the 4-H club is really good,” she said.
4-H Parish Development Officer for St. Catherine, Collin Woodham, tells JIS News that he was elated when Petra Gaye was named 4-H girl of the year, noting that it had been several years since someone from the parish had won the national competition.
“I feel very good about the fact that Petra Gaye won. She works well with other persons and gets along well with her peers. She also did a very good project (for the competition) and anything that can broaden persons’ understanding of not just their space but the wider world, is something positive,” he points out.
He says that great things are expected from Petra Gaye for the future. “She is very involved and dedicated to working with young people to help them achieve their goals. She is very outgoing and she works well with others especially her leaders and peers.so we really expect good things from her,” said Mr. Woodham. Explaining the process of being selected girl of the year, Petra Gaye outlines that the process begins at the community club level, where the leaders of each club select from among their officers, the persons, who they feel are best suited to represent them at the parish level. “I was chosen by the leaders to represent my club at the parish level,” she informs.
She says the parish leg of the competition was held at the parish achievement day, where participants were quizzed and judged on their knowledge of the 4-H Movement. Each participant was also required to complete a project relating to home economics, leadership or technology. In addition, they were asked to create a book to demonstrate that they understood their project.
“My winning project was entitled: ‘Share our world with our young children’. I presented the movie ‘Finding Nemo’ to the children at the Shiloh Apostolic Basic School. After they watched the movie, I explained to them that it was not just a cartoon or picture film. I told them the movie intends to tell children that they need to be obedient and to always listen to their parents because they are there to guide us and prevent us from making mistakes,” she explains.
At the national level of the competition, which was held at the Denbigh Agricultural and Industrial Show in August, the 14 parish winners were quizzed about themselves and general information on the 4-H Movement and the project that they undertook at the parish level of the competition, and from here, the 4-H boy and girl of the year were selected.
“I prepared really hard for the national level of the competition,” Petra Gaye recalls. “I ensured that I did my research on certain things within the club that I was not sure of. After I did my research and I knew that I had the right answers, I just somehow knew that I was going to win because I really worked hard to win.and to think that I was even a bit skeptical at first about joining the club,” she says.
Petra Gaye notes that her only regret was not joining the club earlier. “I was a student at Convent of Mercy Alpha Academy and during that time, we did not have any 4-H club. so when a friend invited me to the Lauriston and Thompson Pen community 4-H Club, I just went out of curiosity”.
She further informs that the first meeting was so interesting that she decided to become a regular member. “So I went back another Saturday and then again and again. In a few months, the clubbites nominated me to be their president. based on my leadership skills.it felt good,” she says.
The 4-H girl of the year tells JIS News that she wants to dispel the myth that the 4-H Movement is just about encouraging youths to get involved in agriculture.
She notes that, “we have quizzes to keep abreast with what is happening in our country, we have home economics classes where we are taught how to prepare meals, sew, bake and mix drinks and we learn basic stuff that everyone needs to know to start his or her home. We also do fun things like we go out on trips, we go to camp and we just have fun with each other”.
The girl of the year is advising more young persons to become involved in the movement. “I just want to say to young people out there that if you want to be someone of good standard or if you want to pursue your dreams but you are not sure how to go about doing it, just remember this club opens doors for you. You develop agricultural, leadership and business skills; the 4-H is there for you to join,” she says.