Starmount junior Kimberly Catalan took part last month in a special program for youth during a conference for county commissioners from around the state. Catalan is secretary of the local Juntos 4-H group. More than 70 other young people and adults representing 63 counties were involved in this year’s North Carolina Association of County Commissioners (NCACC) YouthVoice, which was held in Hickory Aug. 24-25.
North Carolina 4-H and the North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service partnered for the ninth year with the NCACC on a multi-year initiative to increase youth involvement in county government. This initiative helps youth learn more about county government as well as how to become more involved in local decision making.
Catalan was a sixth-grader when she first heard of the Juntos program and she knew then she wanted to be involved.
“I’ve known about the Juntos 4-H Club ever since my brother was in high school,” Catalan said. “Ever since then, I knew I had to be a part of this wonderful club as soon as I started high school.”
She has been a member for three years now and was elected to serve as secretary. Catalan has her sights set on running for vice president and eventually president of the group.
“What I love the most about the club is that we focus a lot on helping out our community as well as other communities with support services such as cleaning, giving stuff to the people in need, etc.,” she said. “For example last year we went to a children’s home and did community service for them in Forsyth County. We also focus on our education, just this summer there was a UNCG camp that unfortunately I didn’t attend, but we’ve also had trips to NC State in which I have attended. Juntos opens up opportunities for those that face challenges in life at times.”
Catalan said she was thrilled to be selected to attend the Youth Voice event this year.
“It was such a great experience,” she said. “One person from each county got to attend this and I want to thank both Ms. Scott and Madaline for selecting me this year and giving me the opportunity to experience this wonderful trip. At first I was very nervous and shy, because I didn’t know anyone there, but like I told them both, it’s crazy to think I would become such good friends with people from around the state in less than 24 hours! Everyone there was so nice and welcoming, we did a lot of activities to help us become better leaders in our club as well as in our community itself. I got to have have breakfast my last day with two of the county commissioners and the first day I ate with one of them as well.”
She said she made many wonderful memories while attending the conference.
Yadkin County Commissioner Kevin Austin, chairman of the county board, said he was impressed with Catalan.
“It is exciting to see young people just like Ms. Catalan involved with 4-H on a statewide basis,” he said. “She is committed to the 4-H program. Bright stars like her give me tremendous hope for the future.”
For more information on the 4-H program in Yadkin County, contact 4-H Agent Madaline Jones at email@example.com or 336-849-7908.
Kitsey Burns Harrison may be reached at 336-518-3049 or on Twitter and Instagram @RippleReporterK.