Local stirs up national 4-H win
Alexis Knight has capped off her 4-H career in the best kind of way: by placing first in a national 4-H public speaking competition.
The Hubbard resident, who was one of North Marion High School's valedictorians last year, won first place at the county and then state levels early in 2017, qualifying her to travel to Kentucky in November for the Eastern Nationals 4-H Horse Roundup for public speaking.
There, she bested 17 competitors who all gave seven- to 10-minute speeches on an equestrian topic of their choice. Knight chose the topic of the history of the horse. Check out her speech at www.facebook.com/kim.knight.528/videos/10210951477483883/.
By being named National Champion, Knight received a trophy and a $500 scholarship, which will be put to use for her tuition at Oregon State University, where's she's majoring in animal science.
Knight grew up around horses, riding for more than 10 years and competing on the North Marion equestrian team. She joined the Mane Street Riders 4-H group in Clackamas County nine years ago. While the passion for horses came naturally, the same can't be said for public speaking, which she took up a year into her 4-H career.
"When I started ... in fourth grade, I did not want to do it at all," Knight admitted. "Each year, I've learned to love it more. I learned that when I could speak about where my interests lie — in horses — that's when I enjoyed it because I was sharing my knowledge with others."
For a relatively soft-spoken person, Knight is pretty relaxed in front of a crowd.
"At county and state I wasn't very nervous, but at nationals I was the most nervous because ... I'm against (people from) all over the country," she said.
And even though she took home the trophy, Knight remains humble.
"I watched people I was competing against and they have different methods of public speaking," she said. "I definitely learned about what I can improve on for the future."
Though she won't be competing in 4-H now that she's college-aged, she said learning public speaking has helped her in so many ways.
"It has definitely come in handy," she said. "It's made it really easy to talk to the public. I can think on my feet quickly, and it's useful for school because there are always class presentations, so it's good to know how to approach that."
And her overall 4-H experience, which also has included participation in the Crafty Critters 4-H group, has allowed her to show goats and llamas, and work in photography, fiber arts and horticulture, an overall experience she'd recommend to any young person.
"I feel that 4-H has been really helpful for me to build my confidence," she said. "It helped me build my character because a horse isn't easy to take care of. ... I've learned a lot of life skills, including public speaking and working with teammates," she said. "I wouldn't be where I am today without 4-H."