They would have rather been sleeping in, but nine members of UT's collegiate 4-H club braved the cold Saturday morning to help facilitate a 4-H public speaking contest for over 40 high school students in East Tennessee.

Public speaking is a major component for the Tennessee 4-H youth development program. The statewide office is housed in Morgan Hall at UT. The contest was to determine which high school students would represent East Tennessee at the state competition in Nashville in March.

Morgan Beaty, senior in food science and technology, wished for participants to become more confident in their public speaking skills.

"Hopefully the competitors will learn some basic public speaking skills that will help them in the future," said Beaty, who also serves as collegiate 4-H president. "The contest consists of a seven minute prepared speech and a two minute extemporaneous speech."

Beaty hoped that the skills learned during the process of preparing for the contest will help them later in life.

"The competitors are learning how to both speak in front of large groups of people and small groups of people, and how to think on (their) feet," she said. "These are skills that will help them in the future as they prepare for college then ... for a career."

James Swart, sophomore in biosystems engineering, agreed with Beaty.

"The competitors will learn important life skills such as communication and organization, which will help them later in life when applying to college or applying for a job," Swart said.

Swart, the social coordinator for the club, also said the collegiate volunteers learned the value in giving back and volunteering.

“The collegiate volunteers will learn the importance of giving back,” he said. “I consider this to be one of the best skills that I learned from 4-H.”

All nine of the collegiate volunteers were involved in 4-H when they were in high school.

“Working with younger 4-H'ers is a great way for all of us to give back to the organization that we all loved so much in high school,” Beaty said.

The collegiate members also networked with 4-H personnel and volunteers that will be a resource after graduation.

“They (the collegiate members) will be working with county, regional, and state 4-H staff,” Beaty said. “These people will be good resources for us later if we (make) a good impression (with) them, especially for those of us who are considering making 4-H into a career.”

Taylre Beaty, a senior at Maryville high school and winner of the 12th grade division, stated that 4-H’s public speaking contests helped her discover a passion for public speaking.

“It helped me to face my fear of stage freight,” she said. “Now being up in front of people is my forte.”

Beaty, who plans to attend UT in the fall and major in child and family studies and agricultural economics, added that 4-H and the public speaking contest has helped prepare her for life.

“It’s prepared me for the real work,” she said, “because it's taught me to have a growing knowledge of citizenship, leadership and many other life skills that can be used in all aspects of life — communication being a huge one.”