Growing Up in 4-H

A young man wearing a cowboy hat, paisley collared shirt, and a belt buckle on jeans, holding a guitar and smiling. A boy wearing a cowboy hat and playing guitar sings while another boy plays also plays guitar. Seated near gold, green, and white balloons, one boy plays guitar while the other sings.
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If you hear a guitar being strummed at a Mississippi 4-H event, there’s a good chance Jones County 4-H’er Cody McFetridge is the young man playing it. An aspiring musician, McFetridge has been an active 4-H’er since 2017 when he started participating in Wayne County 4-H. He showcased his talents in real-world performances at Project Achievement Days as a junior 4-H’er, and then, as a senior 4-H’er, he gained firsthand experience playing at places like the Mississippi State Fair, the 4-H State Legislators reception, and 4-H Idol. When he’s not singing his latest favorite tune, he’s serving as a 4-H State Ambassador. McFetridge is meeting goals in 4-H Shooting Sports and was a member of Mississippi’s first-place national forestry judging team in 2022.

What have you learned in 4-H?

4-H has taught me a lot about leadership and citizenship skills. It’s helped me in my studying habits. For example, in the forestry competition, we didn’t have a lot of time to get ready for the national competition. So I had to learn how to work at a fast pace, and there was a lot of stuff to study that you had to learn how to organize to do well. 4-H taught me to not overthink things, which is something I can do. I’ve learned to do the best I can do in whatever I’m doing, while also having fun doing it.

Because of 4-H…

I’ve grown as a musician. Every time I got on a stage before I got involved in 4-H, I was really nervous, and I struggled with speaking in front of people. It wasn’t the playing and singing that I was nervous about—it was keeping the crowd into the music in between songs. Through all the speeches I’ve had to do through 4-H, it’s really helped me gain confidence in my stage presence and has helped me succeed as a musician.

What do you value about the friends you’ve made through 4-H?

I’ve made several really good friends through 4-H, both statewide and nationally. A lot of my friends here in Mississippi are a few years older than me, so they’ve helped guide me and helped me figure things out both in 4-H and personally.

I’m grateful for all the friends I’ve made, because it’s good to have a variety of opinions and insights. No matter how much you have in common with a person, you’re probably going to have differing opinions on things. It’s good to get their insights in small things like what to wear, but also in big things, like what to include in a speech or how to handle certain life situations. One of the best friends I’ve made through 4-H is Dalton Burney from Yalobusha County. We’re both musicians and have a lot in common, and it’s good to have someone who shares a lot of the same interests as you to confide in.

Who is one person who has influenced you through 4-H?

Jessica Sibley, who was my Extension agent before she moved counties, is a big part of my life. She was there with me when I was a junior 4-H’er and when I moved up into senior 4-H activities. She always pushed me to do more, because she knew I was capable of doing more than I thought I could. I used to be really shy and wasn’t too keen on going out of my comfort zone. If it hadn’t been for her, I probably never would have gotten on the 4-H Leadership Team. I often view her as an aunt to me and really value her advice.

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