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A Different Perspective

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Wednesday, November 6, 2019 - 5:15am


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 host, Dr. John Long and Cobie Rutherford.

John Long: All right, welcome back to another 4-H-4-U-2 podcast. I'm your host John Long.

Cobie Rutherford: And I'm Cobie Rutherford.

John Long: Cobie, it's maroon Friday here on campus and everybody here in our podcast studio is decked out in maroon. You going to the game this weekend?

Cobie Rutherford: I am not actually, we've got some other plans and I think we're just going to keep it chill this week.

John Long: There were no parking slots in the big parking lot.

Cobie Rutherford: Oh really?

John Long: Yes, the maroon army has arrived and hopefully we'll have a good outcome this weekend.

Cobie Rutherford: I think so. I think it'll be a good game for them.

John Long: That's good. That's good. And last week was 4-H day at football.

Cobie Rutherford: It was, we had a pretty good crowd for that. It was so hot though. I feel like it's still summertime here in Mississippi when the calendar says fall, but temperatures definitely don't say that.

John Long: I'll be so glad. We always talk about weather on here because it's so important. We're ready for cool weather to come and we are excited once again to have a super great guest on the show with us today. And that is Miss Courtney Headley. Courtney, how are you doing today?

Courtney Headley: I'm doing well John.

John Long: Good, good, good. Well we're wanting to basically find out a little bit more about you. That's what we're going to be first talking about. Courtney, tell us where you're from and how you got to where you are right now.

Courtney Headley: Well, I am from Starkville, Mississippi. I started with the 4-H Youth Development Department on campus in 2007 and yeah, I'm here. I'm loving it.

John Long: Yeah, but she started out by telling a fib. She's not from Starkville originally... you were born where?

Courtney Headley: I was born in South Carolina, but I was raised here. I am definitely a Jacket alumni.

John Long: Okay, very good. Very good, very good. And you do go on occasion, go back to South Carolina, don't you?

Courtney Headley: Yes.

John Long: That's cool. What part of South Carolina?

Courtney Headley: Walterboro.

John Long: Walterboro. Okay. Maybe can you go through there for anything trampling wise?

Courtney Headley: Mostly the beaches are the best.

John Long: Oh, okay. Very good. Very good.

Courtney Headley: Charleston, yeah.

John Long: Awesome. Awesome.

Cobie Rutherford: Anybody out there that's listening to us, have called the 4-H office, they've always almost talked to Courtney at some point in time, especially if they deal with the volunteer program or any kind of community club type information. And Courtney, you are a volunteer for a 4-H club here in Oktibbeha County.

Courtney Headley: I am.

Cobie Rutherford: And tell us about that club.

Courtney Headley: I have a club that I started once I started working for 4-H. I wanted to see what the other side was like. I started my club and we have been active for over 10 years now.

John Long: Name of club?

Courtney Headley: The name of our club as the Clover Dogs 4-H Club in Oktibbeha County.

John Long: Shout out to the Clover Dogs.

Courtney Headley: Very thriving club. We started first with just some of my own children and church friends and or family and it has just exploded. It has been an amazing experience and I have loved every minute of it.

John Long: How long were, you said you started in '07 in the 4-H office. How long was it before you started your 4-H club?

Courtney Headley: About a year. About a year.

John Long: Okay, so you really did, you really wanted to get involved in it?

Courtney Headley: I did. I did not unfortunately get to grow up with 4-H so when I started seeing all the amazing things that 4-H had to offer, I just had to get another insight of what it was like on the volunteer side and the youth teaching side, education side.

Cobie Rutherford: And as a parent, all your children are involved in 4-H in some facet, right?

Courtney Headley: They are. Finally, we have got my little one old enough that he is a Cloverbud and he knows nothing other than 4-H. When he sees the symbol, that's the first thing he says is, "Hey, that's 4-H Mama."

Cobie Rutherford: And shout out to her oldest daughter Callie, who is the Northeast Region Vice President.

John Long: That's exactly right.

Courtney Headley: Yes, and she is so proud to be representing the Northeast and really has enjoyed and thrived in 4-H and is a big advocate of it.

John Long: That's pretty cool to see her, I know when you started here I hadn't been on, well, you and I both started same year and to see how she's grown up and attained that that's a really cool, she does a great job too, by the way.

Courtney Headley: Thank you. Thank you. We're super proud of her.

Cobie Rutherford: What kind of life skills do you think your own children and the kids that have been your club have picked up as a part of 4-H?

Courtney Headley: Oh goodness. Mainly they have learned public speaking. They have learned to set their self some goals and achieve those goals. And as a volunteer, believing in them and watching them achieve the things that they didn't think was possible. And to see the outcome of that, that is the best part of it is that's the main life skills and taking those things and just another step further and believing in themselves.

John Long: What about, and you said this twice already, seeing the other side. What I guess what did you go into it with? What did you think about going into it? And then what have you thought about it now that you've been doing it for quite a few years now?

Courtney Headley: Well, I just wanted to see the teaching aspect. I wanted to see what really 4-H could do for the kids and the outcome. When we started all of our children were Cloverbuds, and so as they've gotten older we're getting to see the senior side of it and we've got club congress, you've got co-op, you've got national congress and all those opportunities that are just there waiting to be taken. And it's just been a great ride.

John Long: That's awesome. That's awesome.

Cobie Rutherford: And I think when I think about volunteers and I see our 4-H agents working around the state, volunteers are a pivotal part of our extension program. And especially in counties that only have one agent that has to balance community resource development, FCS, that's family consumer sciences basically, agriculture and 4-H. They have to have volunteers or they would not be able to have any kind of 4-H programs of significance, I wouldn't think.

Courtney Headley: Absolutely. I truly believe that our club would not be where it is if it was not for the parents and volunteers that are there with me every time that we meet or they're volunteering because there's no way I could do or have our club as successful as it is without them. They're amazing.

John Long: How many did you start out with? How many young people did you start out with?

Courtney Headley: Probably around 10.

John Long: 10, and now how many?

Courtney Headley: Right now we're sitting at, we have going around 50 but right now we're sitting around 40.

John Long: Wow, that's amazing.

Cobie Rutherford: That is. And you get a lot of support from the agents in Oktibbeha County for your club.

Courtney Headley: Oh, absolutely. They are wonderful. If I have questions, because even though I work for the state office, there are still things that I'm learning constantly and they are always there eager to give any kind of feedback and help and support and I couldn't do it without them.

Cobie Rutherford: That's really cool because there are several different community clubs in Oktibbeha County, right?

Courtney Headley: There are.

Cobie Rutherford: I know I think about the controllers and then there's two of those.

Courtney Headley: Longview Discipleships.

John Long: Sunrise, what is it Sunrise? I thought there was another one too. Sunrise or something.

Cobie Rutherford: I don't know about that.

Courtney Headley: I'm trying to remember Miss Poe's club's name.

John Long: That's the one I'm thinking about I think. There's several in the county.

Cobie Rutherford: And they all kind of have different specialties, right?

Courtney Headley: Absolutely. Many of them do focus on the community aspect of it and do amazing work. In Oktibbeha County was serving our community. Our club, we do community service as well, but we kind of dabble a little bit more on the project side.

John Long: What would you say has been your most popular of those projects?

Courtney Headley: Oh my goodness. Probably robotics. STEM and robotics. It is that generation and these youths are just loving it. Anytime I can put some Legos in front of them or challenge their brain, they just love it.

John Long: It's amazing how they can put that stuff together. I can't even get it to move. I don't know what's the future going to be holding for 4-H 20 years down the road.? Who knows?

Courtney Headley: Exactly. I had Cloverbuds This past meeting that we were going to only do the builds and then we would program the next time that we met and they far surpassed the time. I was like, okay, well let's go ahead and start programming.

John Long: That's important is to be flexible, right?

Courtney Headley: Oh absolutely.

Cobie Rutherford: You've got a wide range of ages in your club all the way from Cloverbuds all the way to the senior 4-Hers. How do you balance that dynamic of all the different ages?

Courtney Headley: With volunteers. Absolutely volunteers. I could not do it without them because the way that we operate is most clubs are generalized, a one project area, but I have such a large variety of youths that yeah, we could do it that way, but there's so many interests that we want to supply that need for them. My different volunteers, we split up and we ask the kids what they're interested in for that year and depending on the project choices of that they have, then we'll assign volunteers and they take that on learning about the project and then teaching them.

John Long: Have you had an instance of where a child comes in and says, "I'm really interested in doing this." And it's like, oh, we don't know anything about that.

Courtney Headley: Oh absolutely. But there's so many resources on the internet, that and curriculum that's out there that it's not difficult. It just takes a parent who is wanting to achieve that. And is as eager as I am to teach the youth.

John Long: Right. And that's what it takes really, doesn't it? It takes that enthusiasm and desire.

Courtney Headley: Absolutely.

Cobie Rutherford: For sure. What kind of fun things do you all do as a club? I know a lot of it's project based. You come together and meet and do state fair exhibits. But do you ever take any trips or do fun things?

Courtney Headley: We have taken some trips. We've been here in Starkville we've done a lot of trips on campus. We've gone to the entomology museum. We have come on campus with the clothing. They have a clothing museum. We've been out to Raspet Flight Center before. Here, fortunately with Mississippi State campus, we have tried to take advantage of those resources.

John Long: There's a diverse opportunities out there for sure. How many volunteers do you have in your club?

Courtney Headley: There is probably about 8 to 10.

John Long: Okay, that's pretty good I would say. How many did you have starting off?

Courtney Headley: Oh, it was just me.

John Long: It's quickly, we need to get some more people in here.

Cobie Rutherford: I think that's something that we're all pretty good at in extension is finding people who are the experts and fields to help us out. And rely on for information. And it's neat to see that trickle all the way down to the county level.

John Long: And I love the fact that volunteers have such a passion for as Courtney said, for teaching young people. That they really take on a lot and a lot of it's out of their own pocket. And in their time, time is very valuable asset that we all just have a limited amount of and volunteers take that time. And I think that's just so important and it's so, it's important to recognize that and recognition of those volunteers just you never can get enough of that for sure.

Courtney Headley: And it's neat to look at your parents too and, and find out what hidden talents that they have and then use those resources. We have one group that we are starting out this year that's going to be neat. It's going to encompass woodworking and small engine that we've never had before.

John Long: Okay so this is one instance I guess.

Courtney Headley: We're excited to see how this is going to pilot and go forth, but yeah, it's going to be really neat.

John Long: That's cool. That's cool.

Cobie Rutherford: Last year we had in our annual report, we included some numbers of volunteers in Mississippi. I'm going to drop some numbers that I think are pretty cool.

John Long: Number drop.

Cobie Rutherford: Yep. Last year we had 5,361 volunteers for 4-H in the state and the average number of hours contributed by each one of those volunteers was 220 hours. Now there's been a lot of research on volunteerism and a lot of folks have put a value on each hour and they have determined the average hourly dollar value of a 4-H volunteer for MSU is not $19.81 cents per hour.

John Long: Wow.

Cobie Rutherford: That would "equivalate," is that a word? Probably not.

John Long: I don't know. We'll make it one today.

Cobie Rutherford: That would "equivalate" to.

John Long: It's Friday. You can say whatever you want to.

Cobie Rutherford: $23.3 million.

John Long: That's amazing.

Cobie Rutherford: From volunteers.

John Long: Absolutely amazing. Just don't, we can't say thank you enough, that's for sure. That is for sure.

Cobie Rutherford: And that probably doesn't even count the impact they are making within the county. That's probably just for their time.

John Long: Right. Right.

Cobie Rutherford: They're doing community service. There's probably an even greater value to that.

John Long: But, one thing you can't put a price on, and this may sound corny, but it's the truth, is the fact of the amount of impact that they're having on that young person, you can never put a dollar value on that for sure.

Cobie Rutherford: That's right.

John Long: Now Courtney, I know for a fact because I was there when you got it, your club has received some recognition and awards and things like that, right?

Courtney Headley: We have, especially with Banner Club.

John Long: And tell us what that is for folks that don't know.

Courtney Headley: Coming up October 1st, is when, or October 15th, one of those days.

John Long: Check your calendar Courtney.

Courtney Headley: Yeah, check your calendar. Is when the Banner Club books, secretary record books are due. Basically that is a record book that your club contribute.

John Long: Collectively contributes. How does it work?

Courtney Headley: Basically, well actually I'm really the only one that does it, but it is a collection of everything that the club has done over the past year.

John Long: Right, right, right. Like a resume basically of what you've accomplished.

Courtney Headley: It's the same as for the youth, but a lot larger version.

John Long: I got you.

Courtney Headley: For your club. You want to showcase all of the activities that they've participated in, all of the ribbons that they've won, all the meetings that you've had. And it's very important to turn that in.

John Long: And you all were awarded that what year? That was few years ago.

Courtney Headley: You had been awarded it I believe three times now.

John Long: Three times, wow.

Courtney Headley: Different awards.

John Long: That's awesome. You usually do that recognition at the legislative day in Jackson. That's an opportunity for, again, for the young people to get out and see the Capitol and visit with people that are representing our area.

Cobie Rutherford: And as far as volunteers go, there are also opportunities for professional development opportunities within 4-H through NVLA and different trainings that that organization puts on for volunteers that I think are pretty valuable.

John Long: Absolutely. Just like I said in there, it's priceless.

Cobie Rutherford: And Courtney, if I'm not mistaken, don't the NVLA recognize volunteers based on years of service and do some awards and kind of monetary things for volunteers that have excelled in their field?

Courtney Headley: They absolutely do. And I can't stress enough how important it is for volunteers to go to these forums, the North and South forum as well as NVLA because a lot of times adults want to be able to help youth, but they don't know what they can offer or how to even get started. And those events are there for these adults to succeed in their clubs.

John Long: Having that information I know can generate other ideas as well too. It's not a, hey, you got to do this for certain for sure.

Courtney Headley: And it's very fun for adults.

John Long: Oh yeah. You got to keep it fun for the older people as well. Just like for the young kids too. Older kids are just young kids at heart in older bodies. Well, all right. Courtney, what do you, what other things have you got coming down the pipe on your end as far as the club later? Have you all got anything coming up immediately?

Courtney Headley: A lot of community service coming up. Of course you've got State Fair right around the corner. Getting the banner book completed and turned in. We just finished exhibit days in our county. Those are the items that go to State Fair. Yeah, so we got some stuff going on, getting started.

John Long: Awesome, awesome. Well we just wish you the best of luck and just continued success in all that you do and for the hard work that you do. And I know that the young people appreciate it and as I've always said, if you're doing this now, you never really even get to see on down the road how much an impact that you've had on a young person. It goes and travels beyond this little existence we have here. Thank you so much for your hard work and again, much success.

Courtney Headley: Thank you all for having me.

John Long: Loved it. Loved it. See, it wasn't as bad as you thought it was going be. Cobie, tell everybody where they can go and get more information on extension and 4-H in their area.

Cobie Rutherford: To learn more about the MSU extension programs, you can go to our website at msstate, excuse me,

John Long: It's a mouthful.

Cobie Rutherford: Or contact any of our county offices. They're located in each county across the state of Mississippi.

John Long: Awesome. Awesome. Well, with that, we're going to wrap this edition of 4-H-4-U-2 up and we'll talk to you next time on youth and 4-H youth development. With that, thanks for listening.

Announcer: Thanks for joining us for 4-H-4-U-2. for more information, please visit 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.

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