Staff Report

Nine members of the Santa Ynez Valley Rotary Club volunteered recently to be evaluators at the Santa Barbara County 4-H Presentation Day held in Los Alamos.

Each year 4-H hosts three public speaking events at the county, sectional, and state levels where members make presentations in a variety of formats to a panel of evaluators.

“This program is a wonderful opportunity for kids to develop the skill of public speaking,” said Jennifer Berman, the public speaking project leader for Lucky Clover 4H, “but it is always a challenge to find enough adult evaluators.”

Recognizing the problem, her daughter Olivia set out to find a solution.

“Since Rotary and 4-H are both national organizations, the idea of partnering them together seemed like the perfect answer,” said Olivia, a sophomore at SYVHS and a seven-year member of 4-H.

She is working on her Emerald Star project, a program that helps individual 4-H members improve in the areas of organization, leadership, and project planning. Her idea includes connecting 4-H and Rotary at the state and national levels. To do so, she will create a complete program of information including scripts, pitch deck, forms, training guide, and on-line videos that any 4-H club can use to solicit Rotary member volunteers in their area and train them to be evaluators.

To test her idea, she first made a presentation to the Santa Ynez Valley Rotary Club. She was excited when nine members volunteered.

“When I saw how eager they were to help, I knew they were the answer. They are awesome!” Olivia said.

According to SYV Rotary president Joe Dugan, it was a rewarding experience for club members.

“Rotarians know how nerve-wracking public speaking can be,” he said. “We were impressed with the poise and preparation demonstrated by the 4-H participants. Our members enjoyed the experience and hope to be invited again to assist.”

Rotary International has 1.2 million members worldwide and brings together business and professional leaders who work to solve community problems, provide humanitarian aid, and promote goodwill and peace.

The Santa Ynez Valley Rotary Club meets every Wednesday at noon at Root 246 in Solvang.

4-H is America’s largest youth development organization with over 6 million members. The Lucky Clover 4-H Club meets the first Monday of every month at the Grange in Los Olivos.

“By solving this chronic problem,” Olivia said, “Rotarians will help this very valuable program continue to thrive and grow. It’s a perfect match.”