by Jeff Osborne
REFUGIO – Being a member of 4-H has been an important part of Presleigh Barber’s life since she was 6, and 11 years later, she is now serving as the Refugio County 4-H queen.
It’s a big responsibility but one which years of involvement in the program and a love of helping and encouraging others has prepared her for success.
“Being 4-H queen you have a lot of eyes on you,” Presleigh said. “It’s important for me to be a good leader, to be respectful to adults and to everyone, and to be a role model.
“My experiences in 4-H have been the best. It’s really helped me in life. Whenever I am stressed out, different 4-H activities have helped. It’s really a great thing, something that everyone should be involved in. I encourage people to try it out and make the best of the opportunities.”
When she talks to fellow students about getting involved in 4-H, one of the objections she hears is that they aren’t interested in raising or showing animals. While those activities are a big part of 4-H, people can be in 4-H and participate in numerous activities that have nothing to do with raising animals, Presleigh said.
Presleigh has enjoyed raising and showing animals, she said, including poultry, rabbits and goats, but she understands that isn’t for everyone.
“There are a lot of other things people can do in 4-H that are great activities,” she said. “Community service is a big part of 4-H, and leadership.”
The daughter of John and Leslie Barber, Presleigh said her parents have supported and encouraged her participation in 4-H.
“My dad was in 4-H when he was younger, so he knew all about it,” she said. “My mom also thought it was important for me. 4-H is great because it teaches you life skills.”
What has Presleigh enjoyed most about 4-H?
“Probably showing and raising animals has been the best thing for me,” she said. “Getting to see them grow is so fun. I practically baby them every day after school. I also exercise them and train them to be the best they can be.”
She said she has participated in livestock judging events all over Texas that have also helped her to recognize and appreciate grand champions and reserve champions, and to see what it takes to reach that level.
“There are so many things people can learn in 4-H,” she said. “It’s such a great thing, and I encourage all kids to try it out and find something they enjoy doing in 4-H. There are so many opportunities and great experiences.”