Cobie has a couple of 4-H Co-Op attendees visit the studio and talk about all the exciting visits and stops that they made during this years 4-H Co-Op tour!
Announcer: This is 4-H-4-U-2, a podcast from the Mississippi State University Extension Service, promoting 4-H programs and positive youth development. Here now, your hosts, Dr. John Long and Cobie Rutherford.
Cobie Rutherford: Well hello everybody, this is Cobie Rutherford with another podcast at 4-H-4-U-2. I'm certainly excited to be here today. It seems a little bit empty in the office without my cohort Dr. John Long, but we're thrilled to have two of our very best for 4-H'ers with us today, Miss Molly Whitehead and Mr. Chase Montgomery. So what brings you all to campus this week?
Molly Whitehead: This week we've got co-op, and this is my first year at co-op and it's been really fun. And it's been a really good learning experience, and just to get to meet more of the 4-H'ers. And to just be more involved on that state level, and get to meet 4-H'ers across the state is really cool to me. So yeah.
Cobie Rutherford: Chase, have you had a good week?
Chase Montgomery: Yeah, it's been really interesting. I've been offered this trip pretty much every time for the past five years. I've just never been able to come.
Cobie Rutherford: So you've had some fun and learned a few things, then. That's awesome. So, to give you a little bit background, I know we talked about the co-op on several podcasts previous to this week, but the co-op stands for the 4-H Cooperative Leadership Conference. And 4-H'ers can earn this trip by either placing first at a contest at Club Congress, or being a part of the leadership team. And Molly, I think you were actually a first place winner and the Southwest Regional Vice President. Is that right?
Molly Whitehead: I was a second place winner, but yeah.
Cobie Rutherford: Oh, so pretty close then. What contest did you participate in?
Molly Whitehead: I did interior design, level two, which was like designing a living room, and that was really cool.
Cobie Rutherford: And Chase, what was your project this year?
Chase Montgomery: I did two. I did the citizenship bowl and entomology.
Cobie Rutherford: Okay, good deal. So that's two wildly different topics, right? So, which one did you prefer best?
Chase Montgomery: Entomology was probably the easiest of the two, mostly because I'm the only one competing in it.
Cobie Rutherford: Oh, don't tell that.
Chase Montgomery: But yeah, citizenship was interesting cause I got to learn a lot of historical facts about Mississippi that I never would've learned in school, because they don't usually teach the governmental history of Mississippi. It's mostly just the facts of how it's progressed over the years.
Cobie Rutherford: I gotcha. So, do you remember anything, a fun fact?
Chase Montgomery: Not much. It's been a few weeks.
Cobie Rutherford: It has been, and this has been a busy week too. It's been some very late nights and some very early mornings. So co-op, pretty much. Molly, why don't you give us kind of a synopsis of the co-op schedule? What we've done so far.
Molly Whitehead: Well, we've traveled to different cooperatives to learn about how they work and what they do to benefit the communities and to work to better our communities. And we've had leadership Olympics last night, which was helping us with our leadership skills and teamwork skills as a group. And yeah.
Cobie Rutherford: So Chase, tell us a little bit about the stops that we went on, on the tour.
Chase Montgomery: Okay. Well, you know, we went all the way to the Delta area in Greenville and Greenwood, and I've never been to that area before. So seeing how the land and the economy there is different than in my area of the Northeast district, because of how the weather is, and just being able to see how their businesses operate based on the placement of the rivers, and the ecosystem, is kind of interesting.
Cobie Rutherford: Yeah, I thought it was pretty cool, too. We went to the farmer's grain terminal, and it sits right on the Mississippi river, and the manager there said that it was the largest grain terminal between, I hope I don't quote him wrong, but between New Orleans and St. Louis, on the river. That's pretty cool that that's in Mississippi. And it baffled me. I mean I've always been around agriculture and farms, but seeing just the size of those silos and grain bins, it just blew me out of the water. So I thought that was certainly a fun trip. And then when we went to Staplcotn, that was awful cool, too. You know, seeing what they do for the cotton farmers around the Southeast, especially those in Mississippi, and making sure that they have a marketable product is certainly important. And then I'd be remiss if we didn't talk about the breakfast that we had at Four County electric co-op. What'd y'all think about that demonstration those guys gave us?
Molly Whitehead: Oh, that was really cool. It really made me appreciate the lining a lot more, and how dangerous their job is every day. Like, we've had big old storms with all the rain coming, and it's really made me appreciate the linemen that go out and do such dangerous jobs, just to get our lights back on.
Cobie Rutherford: Yeah. And it made me think about, you know, when they're out there doing that stuff for us, how bad the weather can be. And they're right out in the middle of it. What'd you think about that hot dog demonstration, Chase?
Chase Montgomery: It just made me realize exactly how terrifying electricity is.
Cobie Rutherford: I know, right. So, one of the demonstrations guys did was they had a demonstration cart, or wagon, that had a power line simulation there, and one of the linemen got a hot dog and put up against the hot line. And we saw how much damage, basically the hot dogs split in half. And he kind of had a funny analogy about how the hot dog is very similar to our bodies, and basically it's water and flesh, and how bad electricity can harm us. So I thought that was really cool, and they fed us a great breakfast. So that was good. So then yesterday, we basically were in the classroom all day. So, we started off with a talk about the history of cooperatives and then had some leadership training. One thing that I tried to put together was, getting to know yourself, and we talked about how youth should look at themselves as a business, as something they can market, as something they should take pride in, and something that they can improve upon. Molly, what's something you learned from the talk yesterday?
Molly Whitehead: Oh, I've learned a lot about myself. It really made me think about what my weaknesses are. Because we were doing the interview for the cooperative thing the other day, and it Peyton asked me, "Hey, what are some of your weaknesses?" I kind of stopped and I was like, "I don't know any of my weaknesses." And it kind of made me think about what, really, I'm not strong in but I can improve upon in that way.
Cobie Rutherford: So chase, what about you? What'd you learn?
Chase Montgomery: Learning and listening to the other people give their demonstrations of what they believed was their greatest weaknesses and strengths. It just let me think even further about myself as a person, because I've already had to do an interview where I had to give my weaknesses, and they are not very good. I have about a list about a mile long of those. But, just seeing other people whose weaknesses were fear, and stage and stuff, get up in front of everybody was kind of encouraging for me.
Cobie Rutherford: Yeah, I thought that was pretty cool. So, one thing I talked about in my talk was we talked about the strategic plan that 4-H'ers should have for themselves, and always have a plan B and a backup plan, but always, work hard to reach your goals. And we talked about developing a vision statement, a mission statement for yourself, and talked about some values and different things like that. But, one thing that I encouraged the 4-H'ers to do was just take back and do a personal assessment of themselves with a SWOT analysis. So, determine your strengths, your weaknesses, any opportunities, and threats that you might have to reach your goals, that you had outlined in your personal strategic plan. So, the strengths are pretty easy to come up with. And I think first and foremost, everybody in the room kind of had similar strengths, in terms of, well, I'm a leader, I like talking to people, I'm a good communicator.
Cobie Rutherford: And then we start talking about weaknesses. And one thing that I mentioned, right off the bat, is that I hate being put into a vulnerable type situation. And I shared some of the weaknesses I've had, that I've had the opportunity to improve upon. And I hope that I got the point across for 4-H'ers that you shouldn't look at weaknesses as something that is concrete. It's something that you can always improve upon through different opportunities. But you need to be aware of them, and be aware of what you can change. And 4-H'ers got up there to the front of the room, and a lot of shared their own weaknesses, and things that they could improve on. And I think that others in the room gained strength from that. Knowing that some of their own insecurities that other people had. And I think that is pretty cool.
Cobie Rutherford: So, we also looked at the opportunities and threats. We talked about the greatest opportunity was to capitalize on your strengths, right? And improve on your weaknesses. So, I think one thing I have done to improve on my weaknesses is put myself in a situation I don't feel comfortable in, and make myself feel that vulnerability. So we had a lot of good examples yesterday about that.
Cobie Rutherford: Then, from there we went and did two really good workshops. Now I missed the workshop on social media. I'm sure that was excellent, what did y'all learn from that?
Chase Montgomery: Basically we were going through and talking about how people can not be who they say they are online. You never know who they are behind the screen. It could be anybody, because technology's just got to the point where you can fake pretty much anything. And the dangers of inviting people that you do not know, personally, into your life like that. Like the dangers of people you don't know privately messaging you and talking vulgar and such, and how you should block, and probably report them.
Cobie Rutherford: That's pretty cool. And what'd you pick up on it, Molly?
Molly Whitehead: Well, we talked a lot about guarding your accounts, and about how you shouldn't start drama on Instagram, and Facebook, and Snapchat, and things. And just to keep it to yourself, and just to handle that in a personal way and not to put it out there socially. And also, like Chase said, to guard your accounts in a way that there's people online that you don't know, and people that don't know you, but are online just to hurt others and to, almost stalk in a way, almost. So you have to kind of guard your account to those things. And also, how you have to guard your account to where if you have a future employer that wants to come to hire you, they check your accounts, and they figure out what's on your account, and they can form an impression of you through your accounts and things like that. So, just to be aware of what we post, and what we tweet, and things like that.
Cobie Rutherford: I think that's really good advice. Sometimes we don't think about, you know, we share something that's funny and then, next thing we know, someone very important sees it that might not share the same sense of humor that we do. Or you know, just for safety for that matter. The other stop we did at the workshop was the state chem lab. What'd y'all think about that?
Chase Montgomery: That was really cool.
Molly Whitehead: It was cool. It was cool to see like how detailed it was, and how every little detail counted in that. And it's so important to pay attention to those little details. Even if it's something little like, I don't know, school work or something like that. How our actions right now go into our careers that we are going to start soon. And it's, yeah, just keeping those little details.
Cobie Rutherford: Yeah, that was a lot to keep up with, for sure. And then the last night we kind of ended on the leadership Olympics. What was the favorite activity in that?
Molly Whitehead: Let's see. There was a lot of them.
Cobie Rutherford: Which one was the most difficult?
Chase Montgomery: The most difficult? That was probably stacking the pyramid.
Molly Whitehead: Yes. Stacking the cups with the yarn and the rubber band. That was really difficult.
Cobie Rutherford: So one thing that we did was we made them build a pyramid with six styrofoam cups. And you can imagine the pyramid, three on the bottom, two in the middle, one on top. And I had a rubber band that had six pieces of yarn around it, and each person on the team had to have a piece of yarn in their hand and control the rubber band, put it over the end of the cup and stack them up on the pyramid. So it took very good communication skills, and very good coordination within the team to make that work. I thought that was pretty cool. And then today, the last day of the conference, has just kind of been low key. Taking group pictures, saying goodbye, just kind of getting everything wrapped up. So, as y'all reflect back on co-op, what would be one thing you would tell someone in your county next year who is thinking about going?
Chase Montgomery: Basically it is a really good learning experience. Like learning the differences and the intricacies of the businesses in our rural community, and how something small can rise from just a few people, to something that big. It's a good demonstration of how hard work can develop into something major.
Cobie Rutherford: Yeah, that's good. What about you?
Chase Montgomery: Definitely, I've made a whole bunch of friends that I wouldn't normally make at Congress, and it's such a smaller group that everybody gets a little bit closer because there's not a lot of us. But yeah, it's such a learning experience. I've learned a whole bunch that I wouldn't have necessarily learned at school, or going into college, or just on the street one day. It's so really cool to learn things that I wouldn't normally learn on a regular day.
Cobie Rutherford: Very good. Well, I know I've had a blast. I actually stayed in the dorms this year as a chaperone, so that was fun. Got to have some very late nights, very early mornings. But, I'm kind of ready for my own bed now. It's been a good four days, and thank y'all so much for coming in today. I hope y'all had fun on your first podcast.
Chase Montgomery: Yeah, this is...
Cobie Rutherford: This is kind of cool. Just wait till you hear yourself online. It sounds really good most of the time.
Chase Montgomery: Oh, I'm going to hate it.
Cobie Rutherford: Well I probably will too, because I feel like I've got a frog in my throat. Well, with that, I guess we'll wrap it up. Thank you again to Miss Molly Whitehead from Franklin County, and Mr. Chase Montgomery from Pontotoc County, for joining us today. I'm so glad y'all came to co-op. I'm glad I got to know you all better this week. And just remember that Mississippi State Extension is always here for you. Whatever you need throughout life, whether it's a question about your garden one day, or home economics or future 4-H plans. Volunteer. Maybe y'all can come back when you age out as volunteers. So, we thank you. And with that, if you'd like more information about the Mississippi State Extension 4-H program, you can find it on our website, extension.msstate.edu, or you can contact any of your local county extension offices. We are located in every county in the state of Mississippi. And with that, I'm Cobie Rutherford, and we'll visit next time.
Announcer: Thanks for joining us for 4-H-4-U-2. For more information, please visit extension.msstate.edu, and be sure to subscribe to our podcast. 4-H-4-U-2 is produced by the Mississippi State University Extension Service, Office of Agricultural Communications.