Making the Best Better
4-H’er learns and gives back to local community
Story by Leah Barbour • Photo by Kevin Hudson
What makes Shandrea Jenkins unique is her giving spirit. The Port Gibson High School junior is an active member of 4-H in Claiborne County, and she appreciates the opportunities 4-H is giving her. She’s getting to serve others, travel around the state, and connect with other focused, ambitious 4-H’ers who want to make Mississippi even better.
For Shandrea, 4-H’s top attraction is helping others—young, old, and everyone in between.
“If you like helping people, if you like working with people, if you like creating your own things and being around people, then you’ll like 4-H,” she laughs. “At Piggly Wiggly, we had a bake sale, and we also did a cookout.
“When we went to Vicksburg for the Thanksgiving food drive, it was very fun,” Shandrea continues. “We were passing cold turkeys to get them into the boxes, and we had to go around and put canned foods and stuffing mix into the bags.
“Just going out and helping people—that’s normal for 4-H.”
Shandrea credits her local Mississippi State University Extension Service agent Monica Beeman with keeping 4-H interesting and fun. Extension delivers 4-H in every Mississippi county.
“Ms. Beeman is a wonderful agent. She empowers you,” Shandrea affirms. “She always gives good advice. She tries to push you into doing bigger and better things. If you tell her you can’t do it, she is going to find a way that you can do it.”
“If you like helping people, if you like working with people, if you like creating your own things and being around people, then you’ll like 4-H.”
— Shandrea Jenkins
Because Beeman has partnered with and offers 4-H within the Claiborne County School District, her focus is on building close relationships with teachers and supporting instruction. Annually, Beeman presents Extension’s range of services, including 4-H, to the school board and individual teachers.
“In the fall, I’m in the schools,” Beeman says. “It has been a struggle to get volunteers, but, through social media, I’ve recruited nine 4-H moms to complete their background checks and become volunteers. And Shandrea’s mom is one of them.”
Stephanie Jenkins, Shandrea’s mother, says her daughter is learning important life skills in 4-H.
“4-H is teaching Shandrea how to be a leader. It is teaching her responsibility,” Jenkins says. “A lot of people are scared of speaking in front of a crowd, but not Shandrea. She’s very good at speaking. She’s not afraid, and 4-H is making her the leader that she’s always said she wanted to be.”
Beeman works hard to ensure that Shandrea and her mother can fit 4-H into their busy life schedules, Jenkins continues.
To Shandrea, however, having the chance to build new relationships in a fun environment makes 4-H worth her time.
“I make time for 4-H,” Shandrea says. “There’s never a time when I don’t have time for 4-H. It’s really great; 4-H is never boring. Every time we come here, there’s always something new; there’s always something bigger and better to do.
“It doesn’t matter what county we go to or which 4-H’ers we meet, they’re always different. They’re always fun. They always bring something different to the table. They know stuff I don’t, and they’ve done things that we haven’t. We learn from each other.”