N.C. youth attend horticulture convention

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From landscaping a roof to delving into the details of sweet potato production, youth from North Carolina traveled to California to share their favorite plant stories at the 77th annual National Junior Horticultural Association’s annual convention in San Diego.
Twenty-four youth and adults formed the North Carolina delegation brought their best plant knowledge to bear on a series of contests designed to test communication and problem solving skills.
Youth participated in demonstration and presentation competitions, giving talks and showing how to do different horticultural processes like grafting, preparing fruits and vegetables and making biodiesel from soybeans.
Many youth attended specifically to participate in the horticulture judging contest, a comprehensive exam that requires youth to take a written test on horticulture fundamentals, judge plants for quality and to identify more than 180 different plant species. The sample to be identified may be a seed, a leaf, a twig, fruit, sometimes even a root, and challenges even veteran taxonomists.
The N.C. 4-H team placed first in the country in the horticulture contest, earning a coveted award among their plant geek peers.
Beyond the contests, the North Carolina youth came together to meet new friends from different places across the country, to experience the Southern Californian horticulture wonders, and to build relationships that might be a platform for a career in the future.
Youth visited the renowned San Diego Zoo, where the plant collection was just as amazing and engaging as the animal exhibits and the San Diego Botanic Garden, which boasts a brand new children’s garden and bamboo collection and showcases the planting possibilities in an semi-arid climate.
All youth in North Carolina are invited to participate in NJHA activities and should consider participating in state level 4-H presentation program and competing in the annual NC 4-H Horticulture Contest to earn scholarships toward convention registration. The NJHA 2012 convention is in the Wisconsin Dells, Wis.
Questions about the program can be directed to Liz Driscoll, 4-H specialist, N.C. State University, N.C. Cooperative Extension at liz_driscoll@ncsu.edu or call (919) 513-7346.
The North Carolina youth achieved the following awards:
Horticulture Judging Contest
First place: 4-H Team; Grace Manzer, Ben Pendleton and Paul Harris of Pasquotank County.
Second place: FFA Team; Jeff Pritchard, Josh Wisniewski, Danny Taylor and Cody Weeks of Pasquotank County.
Third place: Open Team; Adam Lannon, Brittany Praisler and Sully Goetz of Camden County.
4-H Team individual overall: Grace Manzer, fourth place; Ben Pendleton, fifth place; and Paul Harris, ninth place.
Artistic Arrangement
Grand National Award Winners: Team of Ben Pendleton and Paul Harris of Pasquotank County.
Horticultural Use
Grand National Award Winner: Melissa Mason of Alexander County.
National Award Winner: Brandon Hartman of Stokes County.
National Award Winner: Allen Monk of Bladen County and Cody Weeks of Pasquotank County.
National Award Winner: Will Wollett of Edgecombe County and Josh Wisniewski of Pasquotank County.
Illustrated Talk
National Award Winner: Adam Lannon of Camden County.
NJHA National Officer
Justin Simmons of Brunswick County.
Young America Gardening Project
Grand National, 9-11 year-olds: Nathaniel Richardson of Wake County.
To learn more about Brunswick County 4-H and how you can participate in activities like these, contact Blair Green, 4-H extension agent, at blair_wooten@ncsu.edu or Angie Lawrence, 4-H program assistant, at angie_lawrence@ncsu.edu. Call the Cooperative Extension office at 253-2610 or visit its website at http://brunswickco4h.shutterfly.com/ or blog at http://brunswick4h.wordpress.com/.