Gabe Harville Wins National 4-H Public Speaking Title

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Gabe Harville, 11th grade
Gabe Harville, 4-H Western National Prepared Public Speaking Champion

March is Extension Month! This month, I want to highlight one of the most exciting things that has happened in the Smith County 4-H program this year. Senior High 4-H’er Gabe Harville recently had the opportunity to attend 4-H Western National Roundup in Denver, Colorado, where he competed in the 4-H National Prepared Public Speaking contest.

Gabe was crowned the 4-H National Prepared Public Speaking Champion on Friday, January 5, 2024!

Gabe was among 17 other competitors from across several states, and we could not be more proud of him for bringing the national title back home to Tennessee and Smith County.

Gabe is an all-star 4-H’er who has been involved in almost everything that 4-H has to offer since he began participating in the 4th grade. Gabe has been a member of countless judging teams, held officer positions at the classroom and county level, and has served as 4-H Congress Speaker of the House and as a member of the Tennessee State 4-H Council. Gabe is now an 11th grader at Smith County High School.

Gabe’s speech celebrates his journey in 4-H and the friends and memories he has made along the way. Gabe is a natural storyteller, and it’s easy to believe him when he talks about how 4-H has shaped him into the leader that he is today.

When I sat down to talk to Gabe about his experience at Western National Round-Up, I was struck by just how humble this young man is. Gabe told me about playing cards with his friends, eating lots of good food, and sightseeing in the Rockies during his time in Colorado. Gabe told me that he really enjoyed learning and hearing from his fellow competitors. “There were some excellent speeches,” he said.

Gabe admitted that he was a little surprised when they called his name on award’s night, but he described it as “just another blessing”.

Gabe attended 4-H Western National Roundup with his mother Lisa and his big sister Grace, who is currently a 4-H Agent in Wilson County and a former National Public Speaking winner in the extemporaneous category herself. Lisa is a 4-H volunteer in Smith County, a champion of the local and statewide 4-H program, and an extremely supportive parent. Her advice to Gabe has always been to do his best. “You are never competing against anyone except yourself” is what she tells him.

Gabe told me that it has been exciting to see things come full circle, since the public speaking contest was the first thing that Gabe ever did in 4-H. It has always been one of Gabe’s goals to see how far that he could get.

Gabe’s biggest piece of advice for other young people is to get involved in 4-H. “I’ve tried to stay involved with everything I’ve been presented,” Gabe said. It has clearly paid off.

We are so proud of Gabe and his dedication to the Smith County 4-H program and the way that he constantly strives to make his best better!

If you have any questions about the many opportunities that Smith County 4-H can offer our local youth, please email or call the UT Extension office at 615-735-2900.