This year’s Volunteer of the Year is Amelia Sturgill. It is because of the dedication and tireless work of volunteers like Sturgill that Tennessee 4-H is able to thrive.
For the last seven years, Sturgill has served as a volunteer for Fentress County 4-H, volunteering at camp, coaching the Wildlife Judging Team, and chaperoning numerous Honor Club and All Star Events. Sturgill always steps up to the plate and serves as a judge for county 4-H events when needed and provides support for her students.
Sturgill has been an educator for 27 years, teaching special education, pre-K and most recently, technology. Through her work with camp, Honor Club and judging teams, Sturgill assists around 95 students, preparing them for speeches and demonstrations, providing encouragement, and offering guidance on how to handle both victories and setbacks.
“One of the most important lessons that I learned from my time in 4-H was how to win graciously and lose with dignity. Not winning is not a failure, but an opportunity to do better next time,” says Sturgill. “It’s not the ribbon, medal or silver bowl that is important, but the skills gained, lessons learned and how you use them in the future that matter.”
For Sturgill one of the most rewarding parts of serving as a volunteer is watching future generations of 4-H’ers develop into well-rounded adults as they work together to “make the best better.” Additionally, volunteering for 4-H has become a family affair, allowing Sturgill to work with her daughter in her project work.
“Through volunteering in 4-H, I have the opportunity to provide support for my daughter, her friends and my students when they are preparing 4-H speeches and demonstrations or participating in Clover Bowl and judging teams,” explains Sturgill.
Sturgill’s tireless work and dedication to Tennessee 4-H is greatly appreciated, and this recognition of Volunteer of the Year is well deserved.
Q & A with Amelia Sturgill
Where did you grow up and what 4-H Club were you part of?
I was born and raised in Fentress County, Tennessee. I was an active member of the Fentress County 4-H program.
What 4-H activities were you involved in?
My main 4-H projects were Citizenship, Leadership, Public Speaking, Bicycle Safety, and Food and Nutrition. I was a member of the Fentress County 4-H Honor Club and District IV All Stars and a Vol State recipient. I was also a member of several judging teams, lead many project groups, competed at the local, district and state levels, attended Congress and Roundup, served as a teen leader at camp, and helped complete many service projects.
What was the biggest lesson you learned during your time in 4-H?
One of the most important lessons that I learned from my time in 4-H was how to win graciously and lose with dignity. Not winning is not a failure, but an opportunity to do better next time.
What is the thing that you are most proud of in your career?
My whole life, I wanted to become a teacher and work with young people. I am so blessed to get to spend time with them and help them grow into young adults. Through volunteering in 4-H, I have the opportunity to provide support for my daughter, her friends and my students when they are preparing 4-H speeches and demonstrations or participating in Clover Bowl and judging teams, as well as many other events and activities.
If you could give one piece of advice to a 4-H student, what would it be?
It’s not the ribbon, medal or silver bowl that is important, but the skills gained, lessons learned and how you use them in the future.
How has 4-H impacted your life even after you graduated from the program?
My involvement in 4-H helped me develop the courage and skills needed to be a successful leader as an adult. In addition to being a 4-H volunteer, I am a teacher, an elder in my church, a Girl Scout Leader and serve as a Service Unit Manager of all the troops in Fentress County. I am also a member of my school leadership and crisis teams. I feel that my 4-H career trained me for these positions.
Why is it so important to you to continue to donate to 4-H and what message would you have for recent alumni about giving back to the program?
It is amazing to watch 4-H’ers of today grow and develop into young adults. Volunteering, coaching, leading and giving back to 4-H is our way to help “Make the Best Better.”
Where are some interesting places you’ve been or things that you have done thanks to the opportunities provided by 4-H?
As a 4-H’er, I made friends from all across the state, many of whom I still keep in touch with today. I believe that being an active member of 4-H also helped me obtain my college dream job of being on camp staff at the Clyde M. York 4-H Camp.
As an adult, I am super excited to finally be getting to attend National 4-H Congress this November! I can’t wait to meet and network with adult leaders, agents and 4-H’ers from other states to share about Tennessee 4-H and learn about what they are doing in their 4-H programs.