By Cassidy Craig
Since 1969, the 4-H Tropicana Public Speaking Contest has established public speaking skills in young students. The contest teaches students to develop confidence in front of an audience and to organize material and information for a detailed speech.
Though the contest began in 1969, Leon County did not hold its first competition until 1986. The contest is open to fourth, fifth, and sixth grade students in the area. This year, 36 elementary schools and 18 middle schools were represented in the contest on Jan. 30 at Florida Agricultural & Mechanical University. Students competed in two divisions, the fourth and fifth grade division and the sixth grade division.
Leah Holman of Hawks Rise Elementary School took home the Most Humorous award for the fourth and fifth grade division with her speech, “My Dad the Boy.” Her speech highlighted funny memories she has had with her father.
“When I performed my speech, I felt nervous and excited at the same time,” said Holman.
In order to present an effective speech, students are expected to practice their speeches at home as well at school.
“Leah practiced her speech between 50 and 75 times,” added Kari Holman, Leah’s mother.
Through the contest, students are taught how to conduct themselves professionally in front of an audience.
“It is important for kids to do speeches so that they can boost their confidence in front of people and audiences,” added Leah.
Nia Hajdukiewicz of Desoto Trail Elementary School won first place overall for the fourth and fifth grade division, while Rachael Miller of Fairview Middle School won the sixth grade division. These two students will advance to the 4-H District Tropicana Public Speaking Contest, where they will compete against students from Jefferson, Liberty, Gadsden, Wakulla, Taylor, and Franklin counties. The district contest will be held on May 19 at the Leon County Extension Office.