ABINGDON, Va. — A local leader in 4-H has some important advice for younger members, including her 8-year-old brother, who’s just getting started in the youth development education program of Virginia Cooperative Extension.

“I tell Elliot to fully embrace all that 4-H has to offer. It’s an organization that gives back what you put into it,” said Olivia Bostic, who has been part of the organization for the past 14 years, garnering impressive achievements along the way.

After joining 4-H as a kindergarten student at High Point Elementary, Bostic is winding up her last year in 4-H, an organization that has taught her many valuable life lessons.

“It’s really hard to express in a few words what 4-H means to me. It’s taught me life skills, such as how to speak with adults, how to facilitate presentations, how to be a leader and generally how to be a good person.”

She also credits Crystal Peek, 4-H’s Washington County extension agent, for much of her success.

“Crystal has been a guiding light and mentor to me the past 14 years. She’s fantastic,” said Bostic.

Peek had similar praise for her student. “[Bostic] is a young leader who never leaves anything half-done,” said Peek. “She is willing to work with others and empower her peers to make the world a better place to live.”

The Abingdon youth topped off her 4-H career by being elected by her peers as president of the Virginia 4-H State Cabinet from 2018 to 2019. While in office, she helped organize all state events for youth in 4-H, including the Virginia 4-H State Congress.

“State Congress is the big hoowah at the end of the year,” she said.

The 99th 4-H Congress, a premier, statewide annual event for outstanding 4-H teens and adult volunteer leaders, was held in June on the Virginia Tech campus in Blacksburg, Virginia. The congress marks the election of new officers, ambassadors and the state president. Bostic will remain a cabinet member as past president from 2019 to 2020.

She is also a member of 4-H All Stars, an honor and service organization. Membership in 4-H All Stars is the highest recognition that a Virginia 4-H’er can achieve. Virginia 4-H All Stars is service-oriented and volunteer-operated. Members of All Stars perform service work as a way to contribute to positive youth development.

Before Bostic was elected president, she served as an ambassador in the Southwest District of the state during her junior year in high school.

During her 4-H career, she participated in its leadership and agriculture programs.

“Many people think 4-H is only an agriculture-based organization, but it’s actually linked between agriculture and leadership,” she said.

“Participating in presentations has been the most successful [event] for me. I learned how to talk in front of a group of people.” As a result, she became a four-time state presentation champion at Virginia 4-H Congress from 2015 to 2018.

She didn’t grow up on a farm, but the 4-H member served on the stockman livestock judging teams, judging cattle, sheep, hogs and goats.

“It allowed me to branch out and do something different. That’s what 4-H is all about.”

During her senior year at Abingdon High School, Bostic was selected to be a member of The Roan Scholars Leadership Program at East Tennessee State University. Eight incoming ETSU students were chosen from among more than 100 nominees in 27 counties across Northeast Tennessee, Southwest Virginia and Western North Carolina.

“I fully credit everything I learned in 4-H to helping me receive this full tuition scholarship.”

She plans to study health sciences with a human health concentration at ETSU and eventually study osteopathic medicine in medical school.

Bostic said 4-H has taught her to lead for a lifetime.

“It’s been nice watching myself grow as a 4-H member,” said Bostic, who fondly looks back on her days as a young Clover Bud.

“You can’t get the most of 4-H without investing all that you have. That’s a lesson well learned.”

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Carolyn R. Wilson is a freelance writer in Glade Spring, Virginia. Contact her at news@washconews.com.

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