Doing the "Heart" Work
4-H volunteer Patrick Lemoine is especially proud of his Rankin County 4-H forestry team’s second-place win at the National 4-H Forestry Invitational.
Longtime 4-H volunteer coaches team to state record win
Story by Susan Collins-Smith • Photo by Kevin Hudson
Patrick Lemoine has been guiding young people for nearly two decades. As a volunteer with the Mississippi State University Extension Service 4-H youth development program, he’s coached numerous 4-H forestry, poultry, and livestock teams to victories. But his 2019 Rankin County 4-H forestry team’s second-place win at the National 4-H Forestry Invitational in August was one of his proudest accomplishments.
Video by Leah Barbour
“It was exciting,” says Lemoine, who is known by his 4-H members for his reserved, humble disposition. “I don’t give praise often, but I did for this. I was so proud of them.”
The four-member team placed the highest of any Mississippi 4-H forestry team to have competed at the national level. Team members were Ali Hammock, Caly Haskins, Payton Lemoine, and Cole Tolbert. Payton and Cole won accolades for high individual competition scores. Cole was the fifth highest scorer. Payton, who is Patrick Lemoine’s son, was the 11th-highest scorer.
Lemoine, who also is the Puckett High School ag teacher and FFA advisor, has served as a 4-H volunteer for 19 years. Before taking his current position at Puckett High School, he taught for 8 years in Choctaw County. That’s where it all began.
“I had a group of kids who wanted to learn about forestry and do 4-H,” explains Lemoine, who admits to being a little competitive. “That’s really what started my 4-H volunteering. We went to Club Congress that year and won first place. We didn’t expect to win anything. Then I was really motivated to keep going.”
Since that first year, Lemoine has also volunteered with poultry and livestock clubs, but his inspiration remains the same—the young people.
“I really enjoy working with the kids, and they get a lot out of it. They are learning skills they can use later in life. Not necessarily the things we study about forestry or poultry or livestock, but teamwork, study skills, and commitment to the project.”
— PATRICK LEMOINE
“I really enjoy working with the kids, and they get a lot out of it,” Lemoine says. “They are learning skills they can use later in life. Not necessarily the things we study about forestry or poultry or livestock, but teamwork, study skills, and commitment to the project.”
Ali Hammock, a senior and member of the poultry club and forestry team, says working on the projects is fun, and they all enjoy working with Lemoine.
“He encourages us and makes sure we’re doing our best,” she says. “He expects a lot out of us because he knows what we’re capable of. He works very hard for what he does for us, and we appreciate that.”
Hammock says they try to live up to his expectations, but they were surprised to hear their team named second place.
“It was overwhelming,” Hammock says. “We couldn’t believe it. We never thought we’d place that high.”
Rankin County 4-H Extension Agent Heather Jennings says Lemoine is an asset to the 4-H program.
“I can always ask him for help and count on him to be at events,” she says. “My weaknesses are his strengths, and his weaknesses are my strengths. He is good with the kids. He can motivate them, and they want to do well for him. I’m fortunate to have him as a volunteer.”