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Woman credits 4-H for successes in life
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- For Patty Tucker, getting her teen-age daughters involved with Mississippi 4-H proved a smart move for the entire family.
Starting out as a volunteer leader, with duties that ranged from club chauffeur to club chef, Tucker worked her way through the program and now boasts a 24-year relationship with the club.
"Patty got involved with 4-H as a club leader because she wanted her two daughters to be involved in 4-H," said Sherry Smith, 4-H youth development agent with Mississippi State University's Extension Service and a close friend of Tucker. "At the time, she didn't realize all the tools she would gain herself. She has grown in 4-H along with her daughters."
Tucker, who worked as a secretary for the Mississippi Department of Transportation for 25 years, recently accepted the executive director position with the Northeast Mississippi chapter of the American Red Cross.
"Patty's experience with 4-H gave her the skills to look for something different and more challenging. She credits her 4-H training and experiences for giving her the self-confidence to even try something like this," Smith said.
"The skills I developed over the years being a volunteer leader and working with the 4-H program drastically changed my life for the better," Tucker said. "4-H has had a great impact on my life. Without 4-H, I wouldn't have many of the skills I have now -- public speaking, leadership, organizational and record-keeping skills."
Tucker said she knew she wanted to get involved with 4-H when she saw the positive changes the program had on the young people in Lee County, where she lives.
"I saw the impact it had on the kids in our community. It helped develop their skills and also increased their sense of citizenship and pride in the community," she said. "I knew 4-H was something I wanted my whole family to be involved with, and it has definitely been a family affair."
Her two daughters, Camille and Emily, both received state and national awards during their 4-H days, and her husband, William, serves as a volunteer leader with the Union Baptist 4-H Club in Lee County. Tucker is club adviser for that chapter.
Tucker did not realize the impact the 4-H program would have on her own life, both personally and professionally. Helping 4-H youth with projects like record books and public speaking benefits volunteers just as much as the children, Tucker said.
"I strongly feel that 4-H is a learning experience not only for young people, but that it is a learning experience for adults as well," she said. "There was a time when I didn't feel confident speaking in front of a group of people. But helping 4-Hers develop those skills -- and serving in various positions throughout my years in 4-H -- have given me the ability to speak with ease in front of a group."
In addition to her new position with the Red Cross, Tucker serves as club adviser for her local 4-H club, treasurer of the Lee County 4-H Advisory Board, president-elect of the Mississippi Volunteer Leaders Association, and Mississippi representative to the planning committee of the Southern Region of Volunteer Leaders Conference.
Through her years volunteering with Mississippi 4-H, Tucker said she has formed friendships that will last a lifetime.
"These people believed in me even when I didn't have the confidence to do something. They encouraged me to go ahead and go for it," she said. "They encouraged me not to limit myself.
"All the 4-H staff -- and I've worked with a lot of local and state Extension staff over the years -- have been very helpful to me," she added. "Over these past 24 years, the Extension staff has been my extended family."
Contact: Sherry Smith, (662) 841-9000