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4-H's influence deserves credit for achievements
MISSISSIPPI STATE – "Next to my family and my faith, 4-H has had the biggest influence on my life," said Camille Scales Young, national president of the Mississippi State University Alumni Association representing more than 125,000 alumni worldwide.
As a third generation 4-H’er, Young was a member of the Countyline 4-H Club in Lee County. Her projects included nutrition, public speaking and clothing selection/construction.
“Kathleen Smith was my leader, and she is still leading that group. My dad was in 4-H, and his mother was a club leader,” she said. “4-H helped me become the person I am. Special people nurtured me along the way to do things I would not have done without their encouragement.”
Young grew up in Shannon and graduated from MSU with a bachelor’s degree in communication management in 1994 and a master’s degree in agriculture and extension education in 1996. After 15 years of experience in state and federal government, Young joined Cornerstone Government Affairs in Jackson and is now a vice president of the group.
In addition to her other 4-H youth projects, Young was involved in leadership development opportunities such as the 4-H All-Stars and the Awareness Team. Her activities took her to conferences in Chicago and Washington, D.C.
“While a student at MSU, I was involved in collegiate 4-H, which was very different from my earlier experiences,” she said. “There were more diverse people and opportunities. It was very service-oriented and not competitive.
“The record keeping, public speaking and experience meeting a variety of people have helped me grow into the career I have now,” Young said. “Things I learned in my projects, such as nutrition and clothing, have helped me in my No. 1 job now, and that’s being a mom.”
Among the many role models 4-H brought into her life, Young points to Everlyn Johnson, who is retired from the MSU Extension Service, as a major influence. Johnson worked at the county and state levels primarily as a clothing and textiles specialist.
“Dr. Johnson continues to encourage me as a professional, working mother. She is a dedicated volunteer with the gift of hospitality,” Young said. “I’ve watched how she raised her children while having a successful career. She has helped me keep the proper perspective in setting personal and professional goals.”
Johnson said Young’s personal and professional lives require advanced people skills and the ability to multitask. Young and her husband, Keith, are rearing their children in suburban Madison County.
“4-H activities were fantastic ways for Camille to learn the skills she needs now to live such an active and successful life,” she said. “She can juggle several major projects at once and has great people skills.”
Johnson remembers watching Young’s professional career expand while serving on advisory boards, building a new house, participating in the Junior League of Jackson, serving her church and parenting three active children.
“Camille has been able to accomplish a great deal early in life, largely because of the wealth of experience she gained in 4-H,” Johnson said. “Even as a college student, she was responsible for planning major 4-H activities, such as our delegation’s trip to Citizenship Washington Focus, when she was an intern in the state 4-H office.”
In addition to her involvement in the MSU Alumni Association, Young has long served on the 4-H Foundation Board of Trustees, which directs and manages foundation activities and finances on behalf of the Mississippi 4-H program.
“Camille and the other trustees provide knowledgeable and respected guidance to the state’s 4-H youth development activities,” said Paula Threadgill, associate director of the MSU Extension Service. “Camille is a great example of how 4-H helps guide and direct individuals in reaching their full potential.
“As a Foundation Board member, Camille brings a broad background of experience as we target future needs for youth development,” she said. “We rely on the Mississippi 4-H Foundation’s guidance as we offer opportunities and support to the state’s children, communities and 4-H program.”
Young said serving on the Foundation Board offers her the chance to give back to the organization that gave her so many opportunities.
“4-H is a youth development program, but it also gives adults the chance to guide and influence future community leaders,” she said. “Volunteer leaders and 4-H alumni never lose sight of the importance of serving their community, their country and their world.”