Making Friends, Gaining Confidence
Teenager learns and grows in 4-H
Written by Rhiannon Page • Photos by Kevin Hudson
Once a quiet, shy teenager with a love for hunting and the outdoors, Jaxon Cook decided to join 4-H to meet other young people with shared interests, and the experience improved his confidence.
The 15-year-old Tallahatchie County 4-H’er joined his local 4-H Shooting Sports group after seeing his sister, Sierra, enjoy and excel in the club.
“My older sister was always involved in 4-H and was really good at shooting sports, so I wanted to give it a try,” Jaxon explains. “I love hunting and the outdoors, so I knew this would be a good club for me to join.”
While he initially joined 4-H to participate in shooting sports, he quickly learned 4-H has even more to offer.
“I have learned there is so much more you can do,” he says. “I think it’s a really cool group to be a part of. There are so many activities, and there is something for everyone.”
Jaxon is homeschooled, and he says joining groups and activities with people with similar interests makes it easier to make friends.
“I have met a lot of friends through 4-H,” Jaxon explains. “Everyone has always been nice and easy to talk to. We have more to talk about because we like a lot of the same stuff. Most of us have been involved in our shooting sports group for a long time, so we know each other pretty well.”
Jaxon’s mother, Jesica Cook, agrees.
“When he joined 4-H and was able to meet other kids who have similar interests, he began to flourish,” she says. “He has actually become quite social! He is always willing to offer a helping hand, especially with some of the younger kids. His little sister, Lily Grace, began shooting sports last year, and he enjoys helping her. I believe it took finding a group that Jaxon felt he could just be himself, and 4-H was definitely it!”
4-H Shooting Sports helped the 10th grader improve his social skills. Joining a new club can be intimidating, but Jaxon emphasizes how important and worthwhile it is to try something new.
“You won’t regret joining. It is always a positive, friendly environment,” he emphasizes. “Even when learning something new, the instructors and volunteers are very helpful and patient. There are a lot of fun activities offered, and you learn a lot. 4-H is an awesome club to be a part of.”
Former 4-H Extension program assistant Sherry Radcliff also saw the change in Cook’s confidence during her time working with him.
“Jaxon is full of laughs and smiles,” Radcliff notes. “He was extremely shy when he started 4-H, and now he is not as shy and has made lots of friends. He has jumped all in to 4-H and likes to take advantage of its opportunities. I have watched him come out of his shell, and he is now doing things that he would not have been doing without 4-H.”