4-H: Where Are They Now?

A woman rests her arm on the rail of a balcony.
Merry Johnson, 4-H alumna

Merry Johnson, former 4-H’er from Tishomingo County, explains how her experiences in the 4-H youth development program help her excel in the courtroom

Q: Fill in the blanks:

4-H taught me to…improve myself and give back to the community.

4-H taught me to stop…being reserved and to start interacting with others. I can now stand in front of a courtroom and speak with ease.

Because of 4-H…I developed life skills that have benefited me tremendously.

If I hadn’t been in 4-H...I never would have received opportunities to travel across the United States, from Denver to Washington, D.C.

Q: How do you keep the 4-H pledge—”To Make the Best Better”—now?

I connect with this phrase on a personal level because every day, I strive to make myself and my community better. I am constantly looking for opportunities to learn new things and sharpen my skills. Through the love for service 4-H instilled in me, I aim to make my community a better place for those around me.

Q: What were your favorite 4-H projects?

As a shy 9-year-old, I first became involved in our Sewing Club. However, I gradually began competing in public-speaking contests and really came out of my shell. I went on to compete on the national level in horse- and horticulture-speaking competitions.

Q: What is your favorite 4-H memory?

Attending National 4-H Conference! We were able to travel to Washington, D.C., to see our Capitol and interact with legislators. I really enjoyed being able to discuss issues that our generation is facing with my peers from across the country.

Q: How did 4-H contribute to your leadership skills?

Through serving as a leader in my county clubs, I learned how to organize a group of people and delegate responsibilities. I also became comfortable conveying ideas and relating to others.

Q: What do you wish people knew about 4-H?

4-H is not just livestock. There are a variety of projects for a young person, such as leadership, robotics, health, and nutrition. The diversity makes 4-H what it is today.

Q: Who in 4-H influenced you the most?

Mr. Danny Owen (retired Tishomingo County Extension coordinator) had a huge impact on me, because he genuinely cared about my individual development and success. Even if it were a 5-hour trip, he was always there to support me and my fellow 4-H’ers at events.

Q: Why should young people join 4-H?

There is something for everyone! 4-H offers such a variety of projects for whatever a young person is interested in. They can explore their passion, all while improving and learning new things.

Along with numerous county-level leadership roles, Merry served on the State 4-H Leadership Team. She served as a delegate for National 4-H Congress in Atlanta and National 4-H Conference in Washington, D.C. She also received her bronze and silver Congressional Awards through 4-H involvement. Merry is a 2016 graduate of the University of Mississippi School of Law and currently works at McDavid and Associates, a business litigation law firm in Oxford.


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Q&A with Jessica Smith

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