4-H Where Are They Now?
Q&A with Abigail Mangum • Photo by Kevin Hudson
Paige Nicholson-Bergeron shares how the 4-H youth development program helped her prepare for both her title of Miss Rodeo America 2014 and her career.*
Q: Why did you first join 4-H?
My grandmother was a very active volunteer in 4-H, and all of my older cousins were very involved as well. I couldn’t wait to be old enough to join!
Q: What 4-H memory stands out to you?
Horse quiz bowl was my favorite activity in 4-H. We had a really fun and competitive team and competed in Denver where we won Nationals!
Q: What 4-H projects or activities were your favorites?
I enjoyed almost all of the horse and dairy cattle projects. I showed horses and dairy cattle and competed in several activities, including quiz bowl, visual presentation, public speaking, judging, hippology, and dairy products judging.
Q: What do you wish people knew about 4-H?
I wish more people knew that anyone can participate and enjoy it! 4-H isn’t just for kids who live on farms.
Q: Why should young people join 4-H?
4-H prepares you for real-life situations, especially related to getting hired and having a successful career. 4-H also fosters leadership and teamwork skills.
Q: How are you still making the best better?
I am still making the best better by encouraging young people to actively prepare for their future and career. I want people to know that the skills learned in 4-H can apply to any career or endeavor.
Q: What is the most valuable skill you gained from being in 4-H?
Being comfortable speaking to a crowd. It’s a rare but critical skill, and it has helped me tremendously throughout my life.
Q: Do you think your 4-H experiences helped you earn the 2014 Miss Rodeo America title?
Oh yes, exponentially. 4-H developed my social skills, public speaking skills, maturity, independence, study skills, organization skills, and overall preparedness! Having been in so many 4-H contests, the Miss Rodeo America pageant did not feel new or unusual to me.
Paige was active in the Newton County 4-H youth development program for 10 years. She graduated from Mississippi State University with a bachelor’s degree in agricultural information science in 2013. She won the title of Miss Rodeo Mississippi that year and went on to be named Miss Rodeo America in 2014. She now works as an agricultural lender at First South Farm Credit in Newton, Mississippi.
* Interview answers have been edited for space and clarity.