Teens Head To National 4-h Competition
Four girls from Clackamas County will represent Oregon at a national 4-H competition next month. One team of sisters and two individual competitors will travel to Louisville, Kentucky, for the 4-H equine program's public speaking competition on Nov. 9.
Sisters Kendall and Carly Shanklin will appear before judges to give a presentation on the spur stop method for horse training. The two have both been involved in 4-H for more than half of their lives, but next month will be their first time presenting as a team.
This is the final year of competition for Kendall, a senior at Wilsonville High School. But for Carly, a Wilsonville junior, this is the first year she's eligible to compete at nationals.
"We figured since we'll both be in the same age category, we didn't really want to compete against each other, so why not compete with each other," Carly said.
Kaydilayne Weikel, a junior at Tualatin High School, will represent Oregon in the individual public speaking competition. Jolie Lathrop, a Lake-ridge High School senior, will do the individual presentation on gender inequality in the equestrian world.
Weikel's speech on horses in war combines her interests in history and horses. She will outline the ways horses were used throughout the Civil War, World War I and World War II, and even delves into horses in medieval times.
"I've always loved giving speeches; it's my passion. Even though I get really anxious, it's just always been fun to talk about a topic that I really love," Weikel said.
To make it to nationals, the participants had to be named champion at the county competition and then win the state competition.
When Jaime Hudson became the coach for the communications team 16 years ago, only about five youth participated. Since then, Hudson said, the team has grown to as many as 50. For the past four years, Hudson has taken at least one participant to nationals.
"I think I get more nervous than they do," Hudson said of the team members.
To prepare for competitions, the team meets at a noisy coffee shop that helps them prepare for distractions. If they can stay focused through fellow patrons' loud conversations and Hudson's younger children making silly faces, the contestants can head into competition less susceptible to distraction.
"Ultimately 4-H is all about being a learning experience," Carly said. "Even if everything goes wrong, even if your projector breaks down, you just have to keep your composure and give your speech."
"It'll be a good experience," Kendall Shanklin said. "I feel like if Carly and I try our best, what could go wrong? You still get to go to Kentucky, and it's a lot of fun."
"I'm excited, but also anxious because I've never been to such a huge competition," Weikel said. On top of being her first time competing at nationals, next month will be Weikel's first time on an airplane.
Kendall Shanklin is the only one of the four girls to have gone to nationals in the past. Two years ago, she made it to nationals in the individual presentation category.
"When you get to this age it gets hard. ... We're all horse kids, so it's balancing when do you ride, oh, you have AP tests this week. It gets hard to balance," Carly Shanklin said. (Lathrop was unable to attend a group interview, as she
was out of town on college visits.)
All the girls agreed that the public speaking skills they built in 4-H benefits them in other areas. The Shanklin sisters have been involved in 4-H public speaking competitions for years, since they participated in the Cloverbud program as kids.
"There's also this kind of fear factor when you're younger and you're super impressionable, and you don't want to embarrass yourself in front of other people," Kendall Shanklin said. The public speak-
ing program "gets you out there, and (you) let go of that fear that something bad can happen."
"I really enjoy seeing these kids from beginning to end," Hudson said. "When they come to me that first year ... most of the time they have their notes in front of their face and they're shaking and they're quiet. ... And then they develop into these professional speakers who just totally blow me away and make me proud."
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