Ask Curtis Crump and he’ll tell you that 4-H, Cooperative Extension’s youth education program, is nothing less than “amazing.” In fact, Crump, a rising sophomore in business administration at East Carolina University, credits 4-H with putting him solidly on his educational and career path.
Once he earns his undergraduate degree, Crump plans to pursue his master’s degree in health-care administration and hopes ultimately to “manage several hospitals.” He says the leadership skills necessary for those pursuits were honed in 4-H.
“4-H has prepared me for success, not only short-term, but long-term success. I feel that I have developed a mindset where good isn’t good enough, and I want to strive for greatness,” Crump says. “4-H has established a mentality in me where I know I can do whatever I want and know that, with the right work input, I can be amazing at it. This is why I am determined to not only receive my undergraduate degree but also a master’s degree before I begin my career.”
Crump has been in 4-H for about six years, beginning as a member at-large in Anson County 4-H and later joining the Robotics club. “My mother actually introduced the idea of 4-H to me, and I decided to join after participating in several events,” he says.
It was an excellent decision: “4-H has been a huge impact on my life, because it gave me yet another source of support,” Crump says.
“Through my local 4-H program, I’ve been given opportunities that I would have never had otherwise. For example, I’ve been able to become a governor’s page, to be on television and even to receive a scholarship. I’ve also gained a great mentor who has over the years become like a family member and is willing to help me with any problems I may have.”
That mentor is Anson County 4-H agent Roshunda Blount, who, he says, “has made 4-H a challenging yet very rewarding experience for me. She has always pushed me to do above and beyond what I thought I could do, because she knew I was able to.”
Blount has been a great support source for him throughout both high school and college. “One notable thing that I know that she’s done for me that changed my life was her pushing me and helping me complete my 4-H scholarship application. Because of her help I was able to actually receive a scholarship,” he says.
“My 4-H agent is like family. She has been there at crucial moments whenever I need help, and she continues pushing me towards success,” Crump says. “Something as small as someone waking you like a mother and telling you that you ‘better make sure you turn that paperwork in’ makes a world of difference.
“Because of 4-H, I always knew that I was destined to succeed and that there were people who were not only going to watch as I succeed but would also help in any way possible.”
In 4-H Crump has focused on presentations and citizenship, he says, noting that most of his major activities involved learning about our state’s political system or learning how we fit into it. “My favorite 4-H program was Citizenship Focus, in which I was asked to be on the color guard, and I also sharpened up on my speaking skills.
“4-H showed me that you can never stop improving on a skill, in my case presenting. I attended a high school that focused on projects and presentations, so I felt advantaged when I began doing presentations for 4-H. However, I learned when I reached district [level] that I still had a long way to go, and that I was nowhere near as good as I could be in presenting. So, over the years, I have been improving my presenting skills not only through my school, but through 4-H, as well.”
Moreover, Crump says, “4-H has given me unimaginable opportunities that I know I would not have been able to do.”
Among these opportunities was his television appearance on the political talk show “NC Spin.”
“I was one of four 4-H’ers chosen to attend,” he says. “This is something that to this day I am proud of.”
He also served as a governor’s page. “Because of 4-H I have been to Raleigh countless times, and it’s almost like a second home,” he says. “I was also awarded the scholarship through 4-H that helped immensely when I was paying for college this year. These are all things that I believe would not have been possible without 4-H.”
In summing up the value of the program, Crump says, “4-H means family, opportunity, hard work and success.”
He then elaborates: “4-H offers you a supporting family in the form of your local 4-H club. This family then offers you many opportunities that can help you better yourself. Then your new family teaches you hard work and perseverance as you began to chase the many opportunities available to you. In the end your family watches as you succeed in achieving your goals, and you make the best out of the opportunities given to you, becoming a successful, productive citizen.
“These four things are what sets 4-H apart from other clubs or activities, and whenever I think of 4-H these are the things that pop up in my mind.” — Terri Leith