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4-H PROJECTS HELP BUILD STUDENT'S CAREER DREAM

by: Patti Drapala
MSU Ag Communications

MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Former 4-H'er Samantha Webb dreams of opening a specialty boutique of women's clothing made from cotton, wool, linen and other natural fibers grown in Mississippi.

Webb, who plans to graduate with an apparel, textiles and merchandising degree from Mississippi State University in December, said she visualizes a business that incorporates her passion for fashion with a desire to promote the importance of agriculture through the fabrics she chooses for her clothes.

“Without agriculture, there would be no wool, cotton or silk in fashion,” she said. “I want to emphasize that connection through my work.”

Webb has been immersed in agriculture through life on the family farm in Forest and involvement with 4-H. Her father, MSU graduate Bob Webb, raises poultry, beef cattle, sheep and timber. Mother Anita was a 4-H youth agent in Scott County and now serves as Extension county director there.

Webb and her sister, Holly, produced several grand champion lambs while participating in the 4-H sheep project.

“Samantha still helps as a volunteer with many 4-H workshops, including the ones that involve the lamb project,” Anita Webb said. “She and her sister have donated some of the lambs they have raised to other 4-H'ers to help get those children started on their own projects.”

As a member of 4-H, Webb said she also enjoyed other projects that offered challenges and learning opportunities. She selected nutrition as her first project and steadily progressed with her cooking, visual aids preparation and documentation in the 4-H record book.

“Samantha never wanted to miss anything about 4-H,” Anita Webb said. “When something new came along, she would work to master the subject area before she was satisfied.”

Webb expanded her 4-H repertoire to include photography, interior design, clothing, livestock judging, expressive arts and shooting sports. She competed at the county, district, state and national levels of 4-H and received numerous awards for her efforts, including trips as a member of the state delegation to the National 4-H Congress in Atlanta and the National 4-H Conference in Washington, D.C.

As part of her participation at the national conference, Webb sang the national anthem. Her vocal performance and her poise impressed everyone, said 4-H youth development specialist Larry Alexander.

“When we met with delegates from other states, they commented about her performance, her personality and her ability to relate to the audience,” he said.

Webb set another good example while Alexander observed her interaction with members of Mississippi's legislative delegation.

“She is a quiet, respectful young lady who took the initiative in greeting and establishing a rapport with our legislators,” he said. “She just bloomed and was comfortable speaking.”

After Webb graduates, she hopes to become a visual merchandiser for a large department store. She plans to acquire the experience she needs in the fashion industry to plan her boutique.

“One of my favorite 4-H projects was clothing selection,” Webb said. “My enjoyment and success with that particular project influenced my decision of what I wanted to do with my life. I feel confident that 4-H helped to prepare me for my future.”

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