As a child, Crystal Perry's life was changed through her participation in 4-H. As a University of Georgia Cooperative Extension 4-H agent, Perry now works to ensure current 4-H'ers get those same experiences.
Growing up in Sumter County, Georgia, Perry was shy and timid prior to joining 4-H as a fifth-grader. Her time in 4-H helped her develop confidence, communicate with others and speak in public. Perry says 4-H instilled those attributes in her, and they now allow her to help current Sumter County students.
"I thoroughly enjoyed 4-H as a child and am able to experience those same things by working with children as an agent," Perry said. "It is extremely gratifying just seeing kids change for the better over time, seeing them explore new things and having new experiences that they've never experienced before. To see them grab hold of new concepts and new ideas, that is extremely gratifying to me, knowing that I'm able to assist with that."
Perry is a second-year 4-H agent in a county that enrolls approximately 600 fifth- through 12th-grade students. Under Perry's guidance, project achievement participation has increased, as well as participation in challenge bowl teams and consumer judging.
"Crystal was the perfect choice to add to UGA Extension as the 4-H agent in Sumter County. She is a Sumter County 4-H alum who earned Master 4-H status (the highest honor in Georgia 4-H) in the Food Funds project during her high school career," said Melinda Miller, Southwest District 4-H program development coordinator.
Perry has been instrumental in establishing partnerships with local teachers and principals by providing cocurricular lessons focusing on English-language arts and healthy living during monthly in-school 4-H programming, according to Miller. Perry also plans to add the 4-H Health Rocks! curriculum to her programming.
"I had great participation here in my first year as the 4-H agent. I'm expecting to grow even more in the next year," Perry said. "We have a good foundation with which to offer 4-H programming in Sumter County's schools."
Perry credits her family for allowing her to participate in 4-H as a child and travel across the United States. She encourages students in Sumter County and across Georgia to give 4-H a chance.
"I believe that 4-H is a great program to get involved in for youth. It presents great growth and development opportunities for youth to work together, as well as for adults to work with youth," she said. "It helps youth to develop life skills that they're able to use throughout the rest of their life."
Visit the UGA Extension Sumter County website for more information about local programs.
Published August 17, 2015
"It is extremely gratifying just seeing kids change for the better over time, seeing them explore new things and having new experiences that they've never experienced before. To see them grab hold of new concepts and new ideas, that is extremely gratifying to me, knowing that I'm able to assist with that."
- Crystal Perry, Sumter County 4-H Agent