Perspectives Online

N.C. youth, retired specialist capture awards at NJHA Conference

Larry Bass, center back row, retired horticultural specialist from N.C. State University, is among those inducted into the NJHA Hall of Fame during the 75th anniversary conference. Photo courtesy of Liz Driscoll

Braving blustery, chilly weather, 30 delegates traveled to Hershey, Pa. to represent North Carolina at the 75th annual National Junior Horticultural Association annual convention. 4-H youth and adult leaders participated in a weekend of contests, field trips and workshops to share their interest in plants, meet new friends from across the country and learn about Mid-Atlantic horticulture.

As part of a 75th anniversary celebration, NJHA invited past alumni to return, and one of North Carolina’s Extension legends was honored. Larry Bass, retired 4-H horticulture specialist, attended and received an induction into the NJHA Hall of Fame. NJHA was founded in 1934 by Grant Snyder, and since that time, it has had annual conventions to educate youth about horticulture, careers, leadership and education. The 2010 convention will be held in Cleveland, Ohio.

Youth that attend the convention have earned the opportunity to participate through state-level competitions like the 4-H Horticulture Contest and the state presentations contest. From demonstrating why rain gardens are important to articulating the marketing efforts needed to sell vegetables produced from a sustainable farm, our North Carolina 4-H youth proudly showcased their plant knowledge and skills in demonstrations, speeches and talks. Other youth displayed their ability to identify spinach seeds, banana flowers and birch branches through the Horticulture Contest.

Visiting Pennsylvania’s Longwood Gardens as part of the conference, youngsters were able to witness the possibilities of horticulture. Behind-the-scenes tours showed the promise of green efforts by the garden to compost all plant material, as well as food and paper waste from the restaurants and to turn it back into a soil amendment to grow new plants. Sculpted topiaries, elegantly trained mums, gigantic carved pumpkins and splendid bursts of colorful plants prompted Luke Hill, Bladen County 4-H’er, to contemplate a horticultural career, saying, “I think I would like to do this.” Other conference tours included visits to the Milton Hershey School and Hershey Gardens.

North Carolina participants excelled in their contests and brought home an overwhelming number of honors. The winners, their awards and categories are

  • Luke Hill, Grand National Award, Landscaping
  • Allen Monk, National Award, Production
  • Tyler Lannon and Michael Costa, National Awards, Team Horticultural Use Demonstration
  • Brittany Levine, National Award, Horticultural Use
  • Maegan Rizer, National Award, 4-H Demonstration
  • Tim Sherwood, National Award, Special 19-22 Use, National Award, Extemporaneous Speech
  • Michael Costa, Grand National Award, Extemporaneous Speech
  • Lark Williams, National Award, Illustrated Talk
  • Bryan Simmons, National Award, Prepared Speech
  • Michael Costa, Tyler Lannon, Adam Lannon, Logan Bland, Grand National Award, Performing Arts
  • Adam Lannon, 8th place, Horticulture Contest, 4-H Division
  • Justin Simmons, First Place, Open Individual, Horticulture Contest (19-22 age)
  • Emily Mercer, Justin Simmons, Bryan Evans, Victoria Harman, First Place, Horticulture Contest, Open Division (19-22 age)
  • Kait Neeland, National Award, Photography, Slightly Edited Division
  • Adam Lannon, Tyler Lannon, Michael Costa, Allen Monk, First Place, Horticulture Connections
  • David Barkley, Alumni Horticulture Contest (75th Anniversary) 2nd Place
  • Larry Bass, NJHA Hall of Fame Inductee
  • Young America Contest: For youth 14 and under:
  • Michael Hoxie, Grand National Award, Environmental Awareness (Ages 12-14)
  • Toby M. Frost, National Award, Gardening, (Ages 9 – 11)
  • Nazeeha Aman, Grand National Award, Gardening ;National Award, Plant Propagation (Ages 9 – 14)
  • Rebecca Dietrich, Grand National Award, Gardening (12-14)
  • Nayeem Hossain, National Award, Gardening (Ages 12 – 14)
  • Kourtney Roberts, National Award, Gardening;
  • National Award, Plant Propagation (Ages 12 – 14).

-- Natalie Hampton