Sarah Bassett Successfully Completes State Council Term
Posted: October 29, 2012
At State Achievement Days in August, 2012, Sarah Bassett (a member of the Backwoodsmen 4-H Club and Northumberland County 4-H Council), completed her term as President of the Pennsylvania State 4-H Council. Sarah helped lead a successful year for State Council, who plans the yearly State Leadership Conference and parts of State Achievement Days, in addition to a whirlwind year in which members meet with 4-H members and leaders, elected officials, and 4-H/Extension Staff from all over the state. Recently, Sarah shared her experiences as a State Council Member and she her obvious enjoyment of the experience.
Sarah decided to apply to be a State Council Member to become more involved in the 4-H Program. “I have always wanted to be involved with 4-H at a higher level than the club and county levels”, she said. “I also thought it would be exciting to be a part of the planning process for events that I have always enjoyed attending, like State Leadership Conference and State Achievement Days,” Sarah added.
Sarah’s journey to State Council began around April of 2011, when she began to complete the State Council Application. “Once I made the decision to apply to be a State Council Member, I completed the application and submitted it to the State by around the beginning of May.” The application process includes getting references from 4-H leaders and 4-H Staff at the county level. “Sarah asked me if I would support her being a member of PS4-HC and I was more than happy to give my support and recommendation to the State Council advisors,” explains Sam Nicola, 4-H Youth Development Coordinator for Northumberland County. Sarah was then informed that she would have to give a one-minute speech in front of all the attending delegates at State Achievement Days in the summer of 2011, explaining why she was applying and running to be on State Council. “The short speech is designed to convince the voting delegates (each county has two) to vote for you,” Sarah explained. On the second day of State Achievement Days, applicants are then required to give a five minute presentation to the State Council Advisors, Mrs. Mya Rushton and Mr. Matt Smith, the State 4-H Program Leader, Mrs. Christy Bartley, and other panel members, usually consisting of past State Council Members and Advisors. “We needed to make this five minute presentation and then be interviewed by the panel. Each portion of the process, from application to interview, counts toward a percentage of a rating system to be selected as a Council Member. I know it may seem lengthy and a bit scary, but it really isn’t that bad!” Sarah explains. Council members are informed the same day as their interviews whether or not they have been approved to be a Council Member. That same evening, the new members of Council are guided through a process where they select officer positions for themselves and each other, as opposed to an election process. This is accomplished based on what each member perceives as their own personal strengths and challenges. 4-H Staff members guide them through this discussion and, in the end, make the final decision as to who is assigned to each office.
During the closing ceremonies, the new State Council finds out who was appointed to each position. It was here that Sarah found out that she had been selected to serve as the PS4-HC President. Once the excitement of State Achievement Days and the Selection Process is over, “State Council Officers perform many duties,” Sarah explains. “The primary duty of a State Officer is to represent the PA 4-H Program to the public. I personally attended many promotional events like Ag Progress Days, Farm Show, and even had the privilege of having breakfast with the First Lady of Pennsylvania, Mrs. Susan Corbett!”
The State Council Officers are also instrumental in the planning of State 4-H Events. “State 4-H Leadership Conference is our biggest event. We do the majority of the planning for that,” Sarah explains. “We also help pick the theme and plan the opening ceremonies for State Achievement Days and serve as emcees at Capital Days, where we also ‘team-teach’ a Parliamentary Procedure Workshop.”
Sarah cites her favorite part of being on State Council as the relationships she forged during her year in office. “I found amazing new friends that I wouldn’t have met otherwise. Council really does become a second family.” She also says that she enjoyed traveling the state for different events and activities. “I saw a lot of Pennsylvania during my term!” Although she enjoyed her time immensely on State Council, she does acknowledge the fact that there are some challenges. “Time management is key,” she explains. “Between school, sports, 4-H at the club and county level, and State Council, there were moments when I felt overwhelmed.” Fortunately for Sarah, she had the support to get through the sometimes hectic year. “With the support of my family, friends and fellow Council Members, I was able to accomplish nearly everything I set out to do!”
Even with the challenges State Council can bring, Sarah enthusiastically recommends State Council to anyone who is passionate about the 4-H Program. “Council is a great once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. You get to be behind the scenes of state events, meet important people, like State Representatives and even the Governor!” She says. Most importantly, in Sarah’s opinion, as a Council Member, “you grow tremendously as a person. I can’t describe how much State Council has affected my life for the better. This is simply an experience that everyone should want to be a part of.”
Northumberland County 4-H is certainly proud of Sarah and her accomplishments. Since its inception nearly 10 years ago, Sarah is the second Northumberland County 4-H’er to serve a term on State Council, the first being Jessica Ritchey (a former member of the Ride With Pride 4-H Club) in 2006. Any active 4-H member, who is at least 4-H Age 16 years-old is eligible to apply. If you are interested in being a State Council Member, more details are available at the State Council Website or by contacting Sam Nicola, Northumberland County 4-H Coordinator.