Cotton County 4-H’er Wins Top Honor in State 4-H Roundup

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Tuesday, August 2, 2022

Media contact: Trisha Gedon | Communications Specialist | 405-744-3625 | [email protected]

When Zach Wagner was younger, he heard the quote: “The only thing that limits you is yourself.

It didn’t mean much to him until he started his 4-H journey. What a journey it has been, culminating in receiving the highest honor a club member can achieve at the state level.

The Cotton County 4-H’er was inducted into the Oklahoma 4-H Hall of Fame during the Assembly’s Honors Night during the 101st State 4-H Roundup at Oklahoma State University. Additionally, he received the Ira Hollar Advanced Leadership Scholarship. This $1,200 scholarship is sponsored by the Ira Hollar Endowment. He also received the $1,200 State of Law Graduate Scholarship sponsored by the State of Law Endowment.

Describing himself as a shy and reserved child, Wagner said his life began to change when he joined 4-H.

“I attended meetings and presented a few items at the county fair, but I wasn’t really involved in 4-H competitions or fun activities,” he said. “When my best friend invited me to go to summer camp with him, that’s when things really changed. It opened my eyes to 4-H and made me realize that I had only opened one door to a whole world of new activities.

He said he keeps trying new things, keeping that quote in mind. While attending the Youth in Action conference, he discovered that he had a certain skill he could use: leadership.

“I learned that I could use the skills that I had the chance to teach people, to lead them, to take care of them,” he said. “I got more involved and continued to expand my horizons and found motivation to keep doing things. 4-H changed my life.

As a freshman in high school, Wagner said he had to put together a state record book. Relying on his memory, he sat down to recall each of his projects. It was during this process that he realized that he did not have much leadership activity. He quickly became an official Cotton County Teen Leader and continued to hone his leadership skills.

The Teen Leaders did a variety of activities, including making valentines for veterans. The group made dog toys from old t-shirts that were donated to a local animal shelter. They also worked on the school and courthouse gardens as part of a beautification project. Wagner went from teaching a workshop at camp to developing his own woodworking day camp.

“It’s really exciting to see what starts out as simple boards that grow into cornhole sets, chairs, shelves and meal trays,” he said.

Throughout these activities, Wagner honed his leadership skills and others began to notice him. He was asked to start a new club in Cotton County, and with the help of his family, he started a LEGO 4-H robotics club. As the Junior Coach of the 4-H Robotics Team, he coaches 4-H youth on everything from building their robots to measuring distance and calculating that into their program. He is also a member of the 4-H LEGO Robotics Senior Team, which placed second in their very first competition.

During COVID, Wagner knew he still wanted to work on his leadership skills and continue to help club members learn more about STEM, so he developed videos on a variety of topics, including candle making. , borax crystals, water filtration systems, elephant toothpaste and eight ways to say no. His candle-making video was picked up by the national 4-H Stay at Home program.

Wagner has been a great asset to his local 4-H club by being a good role model, said Cotton County OSU Extension 4-H educator Kimbreley Davis.

“Zach works very well with the younger kids and has a lot of fun with them. He did a great job mentoring third graders and helping them learn how to build and program LEGO robotics for the STEM club he started and preparing them for competition,” Davis said. “His drive to help out and make our community a better place to live is probably one of the many reasons Zach received this honor. I am so proud of him and his 4-H career.

Wagner says the skills he learned in 4-H will stay with him throughout his life.

“I started out like any normal 4-H’er when I started my journey,” he said. “Today I am a leader because I learned that the only thing holding me back was myself. 4-H has changed my life for the better, and I can’t wait to see what next year brings.

A 2022 graduate of the Oklahoma School of Science and Mathematics, Wagner plans to attend college at the University of Oklahoma and major in biology with an emphasis on medical research. He is the son of Kelsey and Leticia Wagner.

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