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Each year during the third week in July youth from throughout North Carolina meet on campus at North Carolina State University to celebrate. The event is known as North Carolina 4-H Congress.
Youth ages 9-19 make presentations on a number of topics and compete to represent the state in several national competitions.
Last week, a delegation from Brunswick County included Justin Simmons of Supply, who made bid for state president. Simmons, a home school graduate,
In preparation for the role, Simmons has been active in 4-H for more than 12 years. Taking part in most of the education areas cooperative extension offers, he says, has given him a chance to meet people all over the county, state and country.
His mission is to make sure other people, especially young people, know about and make use of the cooperative extension programs that are available.
He sees making connections as a means to making success in the future a reality for young people whose options may not be exactly what they envisioned.
Simmons’ goals include helping 4-Hers know about similar programs available to help them learn and make preparation to be active citizens in the years ahead. He is particularly concerned that farming has such a bad reputation among people, young and old.
“The statistic is that only 3 percent of people are farming today,” Simmons said. “But 100 percent of people consume the products of farms. That means we better get off this easy money track and back to work.”
Simmons and his brother are partners in a venture they have helped create called Veggies By the Sea. Their aim has been to learn about and apply business principles as they work to learn about marketing the food they grow.
He said all the professionals he has known in his years of 4-H have been instrumental in making this run such an easy decision.
Simmons, the son of Cleveland and Sybil Mitchell Simmons of Supply, helped lead Congress this year. As vice-president of the Southeast District, his duties include a position on the State 4-H Council.
He spent several weekends in Raleigh helping to plan Congress. During Congress, Simmons made a presentation on farming practices.
He and his younger brother, Bryan, were selected to participate in 4-H Entertains as The Simmons Brothers, an act which features Justin on drums and Bryan on keyboard.
Both boys helped lead the Brunswick County Horticulture Team, which may have the opportunity to represent the state in the National Junior Horticulture Association annual meeting, in Cleveland, Ohio, in October. Justin serves as central region district director for that organization.
Justin serves on the Strategic Planning Council, the advisory council of the Cooperative Extension service out of N.C. A&T State University, is the youth secretary for N.C. Grange and has formed associations with the leadership team of Future Farmers of America, both in the state and across the country.
He was encouraged to run by the members of his church, Big Macedonia Missionary Baptist Church of Supply, where the Rev. Leo Stevenson is the pastor. They helped him fund his campaign by saving cans, which will be recycled, according to Simmons.
“My mom has taught us that you save a million dollars one penny at a time. So I appreciate all the help people have given so far,” Simmons said.