Second day of contest...another new adventure for us. Normally we are already back home and telling the world about our feats! However, this contest is so intense and time-consuming it has to be broken up into two days. So, we were back at Sul Ross for a second day, and we were faced with the dreaded oral defense right from the start.
Sean and Katy jumped at the chance to be one of the first to go into the judges room. They both came out excited and talking about how easy it was to talk to the judges about their habitat plans. Henry, on the other hand, was terrified. Even Mr. Hysmith came out to tell me that Henry was nervous. When Henry came to us after his presentation, he was visibly upset and told me he had really messed up. So, I sat him down and asked what he did when he talked to the judges. He told me what he said and how he was well poised looking the judges in the eye. All sounded good to me so I asked him what went wrong. He said in a very low, almost inaudible voice, "I spoke to them like this." Oh! I felt so bad for him! I told him that I was proud of his courage to talk to the judges in spite of his fear. Not only that, he had moved up to the senior division in order for us to have a senior team! If he had been in his correct division, it would have been more about the actual drawing and sharing exactly what was on the chart. In the senior division, the 4Her must try to expand on the questions the judges ask related to the property drawing. Needless to say, I am proud of him for just taking on this extra duty for his age. It will make him stronger for the next time!
We had a short lunch break and then returned to hear the final results. Mr. Hysmith started out by congratulating all the teams and allowing them to stand to represent their counties. Then he invited all the coaches to the front of the room to present a gift (Bird Song Bible) for all their hard work with the youth. Throughout these presentations, there was a slide show of pictures that Mrs. Hysmith had taken during the contest. It was starting to be a real celebration of all we had done in the last two days.
The awards for individuals and teams were given for Junior, Intermediate, and Senior divisions. We were not called forward but enjoyed seeing those who worked hard win the awards. It was like having your cousin win in the same competition...because by this time we were one big happy family. We also learned throughout the weekend that most of these teams had been working together for several years. Many told us that they remembered their first time and how much they had learned from those first years. In other words, the other teams were encouraging us to continue with the contest in the future. We were also given ideas on how to improve. I cannot emphasize how different this contest was compared to any other.
I love 4H and sing its praises often but THIS contest is the epitome of all that 4H stands for in its motto and pledge. It was hard to say good-bye to all the new friends we had met. And, when Mr. Hysmith heard we were leaving he was very concerned about our long drive and told us to be safe.
Katy and Lynda were able to stay until the next day, so they went on a tour of the university with Ms. Warnock. I hope to hear about it when we return home. Maybe I can add those details later.
An amazing trip that we will not forget. We also have been invited to help with the National contest next month. I am not sure if we will be able to help but will try to make our way to Kingsville to give a helping hand and learn even more about the contest. It is hard to resist the opportunity when it was such a great experience!