According to Forbes magazine, about 10 percent of the American population loves public speaking. That leaves the rest of us with sweaty palms, nervous stomachs and quaking knees at just the thought of speaking in front of an audience. School board member, Susan Roberts, said public speaking is “…one of the most important skills our students can learn….” Roberts is right; the fear of public speaking can negatively impact wages, college graduation and promotion to management or leadership positions, and employees routinely state the ability to communicate is the number one job skill they want in new hires.

The 4-H Tropicana Public Speaking Program for fourth, fifth and sixth graders works to resolve that issue through teaching students how to select and research a topic then present it to their classroom. Students compete on the classroom level to advance to school grade level competition then county competition.

Twenty-seven of the best speakers from Washington County schools competed for grade level awards at the county contest hosted by UF/IFAS Extension Washington County 4-H. Winners were presented a plaque sponsored by Pepsico/Tropicana, and first place winners earned a $250 4-H Camp Timpoochee scholarship.

Fourth grade winners were first place Aiden Wheeler, second place Jonathan Grantham, third place Kinsleigh Hunter and honorable mention Jace Brown.

Fifth grade winners were first place Ava Johns, second place Isabela Thornton, third place Jacob Poppell and honorable mention Alice Kopp

Sixth grade winners were first place Marissa Rodriguez, second place Riley Nelson, third place J’zohnna Kelly and honorable mention Sarah Bush.

For more information on 4-H in Washington County, contact 4-H Agent, Julie Pigott Dillard, at or 850-638-6180.