The youth, all ninth- through 12th-graders, were chosen to attend based on their activeness in the 4-H program.
Bradley County 4-H Honor Club members Ben Bunch, Cala Chamberlin, Destiny Dodson, Sydney Greer, Jennings Kelley, Shannon Kelley, Skylar Kelley, Austin Roe, Emily Sherrill, Hannah Waddell attended with 4-H staff Lynne Middleton, Robin Ramsey and Kathryn Ervin.
The program the youth participated in helped them hone their skills in teambuilding, critical thinking, leadership, and citizenship.
While on the five-day trip, the youth visited Fort Pulaski, a Civil War fort; toured the historic city of Savannah, Ga., where they learned the history of the city and its importance during the Civil War; participated in a dolphin encounter; attended classes on sea creatures and wildlife and seined in the ocean. They also ate at local seafood restaurants, trying new dishes.
In the evenings, the youth gathered at campfires, competed in teambuilding games, and walked on the beach.
Ben Bunch, 10th-grade son of Doug and Janet Bunch of Cleveland, said, “Before I went on this trip, I had never held a snake before. I overcame that fear on this trip. I also made new friends and developed better relationships with old friends. It was a great experience for me.”
Shannon Kelley, a teacher at Prospect Elementary School, 4-H volunteer, and mother of Jennings and Skylar Kelley, said, “This was the best group of 4-H members I’ve ever been on a trip with. I’ve traveled the world and overall this was one of my favorite trips. The sights, the kids, the relaxed nature of the trip while we learned at the same time made it an incredible experience for my girls and me.”
Upon their return the participants had an opportunity to evaluate the experience. Eleven admitted they had never eaten seafood before, while four of them said they had never been to the ocean before.
Twenty-four of the youth said they had learned new leadership techniques and 26 said they were better equipped to work with people from different backgrounds following this opportunity. All 30 said they could better lead a group of people in planning and making decisions.
Lynne Middleton, Extension 4-H agent for UT Extension–Bradley, said, “This group of youth had an opportunity that few people have even as adults. The trip was affordable, educational, and best of all, fun. We are looking forward to doing it again in the future!”
For more information on the 4-H program in Bradley County, please contact Lynne Middleton at LMiddle2@utk.edu or 423-728-7001.