Three 4-H members beat odds to make board
by Cheree Dye
Jul 04, 2014 | 1157 views | 0 0 comments | 19 19 recommendations | email to a friend | print
In more than 80 years of 4-H history, never before have three candidates from the same county been elected to the Georgia 4-H State Board. Bartow County’s Matthew Pryor, Ezra Hall and Thomas Gilbert won the seats at the annual meeting of State Council at the Rock Eagle 4-H Center.

According to a press release, the election is a peer election with voters from each of the counties in attendance. Each district is awarded a maximum number of votes for the election. Candidates make use of campaign speeches, skits, meets and greets, extemporaneous questions and campaigning to be elected. The general election is held first with voting delegates selecting five individuals from the general poll. The top candidate who receives the most votes will be president, second will be vice president and the other three will be state representatives.

Pryor garnered enough votes to become vice president, while Hall and Gilbert were elected as state representatives.

Jenny Jordan, extension specialist for the College of Agriculture and Environmental Science at the University of Georgia, said, “The duties of the newly elected officers will be to represent 4-H at venues throughout the state and meet with individuals ranging from donors to state officials. The officers are responsible for representing the nearly 170,000 Georgia 4-H members and they are in charge of planning two statewide events.”

Overall, 23 candidates ran for the five state council seats.

Beth Pryor, mother of Matthew Pryor, calculated the statistical odds of three candidates from the same county being elected.

“Bartow County had three qualified candidates that joined 19 others, all from various counties, seeking the highly coveted position of serving on State Board for Georgia 4-H. If you are familiar with probability, then you would know the formula required to compute the odds these young men faced. With five initial positions available, Ezra Hall, Thomas Gilbert and Matthew Pryor each had one chance out of 22 candidates. However, because they were called out for the third, fourth and fifth positions, they had one chance out of 6,840 of making it on the State Board. Due to the fact that these three young men were running from one county and the other candidates were from 19 separate counties throughout the state, the odds of all of them being chosen was 3 in 136,800.”

Matthew Pryor, a junior at the Georgia Virtual School, volunteers at the Booth Western Art Museum. One of the goals he hopes to accomplish during the year is to produce an “informational and entertaining” music video.

“I would like to gain new leadership skills and abilities,” Pryor said. “I would also like to learn new and interesting things about Georgia 4-H and my community so I can serve them as well as I can. However, in my mind, it isn’t about what I can gain from this role, it’s about what I can do to help others to learn and gain new skills. Recently, I have been able to help family and friends become interested in 4-H. I want everyone to know that 4-H is a gateway to success.”

Ezra Hall is a member of the cross country team at Cartersville High School where is a senior. He is also the editor of The Chipper, the CHS magazine. For Hall, 4-H is a lifestyle that may extend past his adolescence.

“I plan on attending a four-year college and majoring in political science with a focus on pre-law. After college and graduate school, that is where my plan becomes two. I either plan on becoming a lawyer and later entering politics, or I plan on working for Georgia 4-H, as either a state faculty member or an agent, and then one day maybe becoming the state 4-H leader.”

Thomas Gilbert is a junior at Johnson Ferry Christian Academy and appears monthly on WBHF AM 1450 to discuss the benefits of 4-H.

“We don’t really have a focus [for our campaign]. But, for me, I knew I needed to have a catchy campaign speech and slogan, as well as needing to work really hard to meet and persuade delegates to vote for me,” he said. “Running for board is one of the hardest events I have ever done. It is physically demanding because for less than 24 hours you are talking to as many people possible, walking around in the heat, and carrying your campaign poster. But even more so is how emotionally and mentally demanding it is. You basically have to put yourself out there, take a chance, and really get out of your comfort zone. The whole time you’re campaigning, you’re hoping your peers like your speech and believe in you as a leader and will vote for you. This takes a lot of guts.”