Caroline Bailey, a St. Marys native and WVU senior, was recognized for her contributions and achievements in scholarship, leadership and service.
Bailey joined the Cher-Mi-Del-Sen 4-H Club, run by the WVU Extension Service, in 3rd grade. It was through the club that she developed a passion for giving back to the community.
“Service has always been important to me but 4-H really helped me discover that,” Bailey said.
She also became active in 4-H camp programs, taking part in both county and state camps.
“Camp creates a bond amongst the campers,” she said. “It’s something you can’t experience anywhere else. It gave me a chance to learn from people my age who were from different schools and communities than I was. I developed a support system of my peers. “
Those ties continue to hold true even as Bailey prepares to graduate college. She roomed with a fellow 4-H’er from state camp when she came to WVU. She’s also a member of the University’s Collegiate 4-H Club which was recently named the National 4-H Collegiate Club of the Year and the WVU Student Organization of the Year.
Bailey attributes much of her passion for service and citizenship learning to her time in 4-H. The aspiring politician remembers the moment she first knew she wanted to pursue a career that could help her better the world.
“I realized I wanted to go into politics while attending the National 4-H Conference in Washington, DC,” she said. The program allows youths to visit with senators and state delegates to talk to them about the importance of 4-H.
“It was sitting in Senator Byrd’s office that I had that moment where I knew I wanted to make a change in the world through politics and government,” she said.
Bailey isn’t worried about the speeches or public appearances that could accompany that type of position. She says 4-H has prepared her for those tasks.
“4-H taught me how to filter and focus my messages to make me a more effective public speaker,” Bailey said. “I was never shy but presentations at club meetings and leading skits at camps helped me to gain confidence when I was in front of a group.”
Her advice to current 4-H’ers and youth is to “put yourself out there.”
“4-H gives you so many opportunities but you can’t be afraid to seize them. Do something that’s outside of your comfort zone, whether it’s leading a skit or doing a demonstration; don’t be afraid to take charge,” she said.
When it comes to finding success through 4-H or higher education, Bailey has a suggestion to children and parents, alike.
“Find your niche. Find what makes you happy and that you’re interested in. Run with it and don’t be afraid.”
The 4-H program is offered at no cost to people in all 55 counties throughout the state. For information on joining a local club contact you county office of the WVU Extension Service.