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Love County 4-H’ers Graci King, Camdyn Cook, Taryn Blankenship and Keona Ellis, pictured before COVID-19 social distancing recommendations were in place, won the reserve champion title in the recent virtual national FCS Skillathon competition. (Photo provided)

Love County 4-H team earns reserve champion title in skills competition

Thursday, January 21, 2021

A team of Love County 4-H’ers demonstrated their knowledge and earned a reserve champion title from the recent National FCS Skillathon.

Taryn Blankenship, Camdyn Cook, Keona Ellis and Graci King earned their spot among other teams nationwide by winning the Oklahoma Skillathon contest at the virtual, statewide 4-H Roundup last summer. Under normal circumstances, the team would have competed for the title at the Denver Western Roundup, but that event was canceled due to pandemic concerns. Instead, Utah State University Extension stepped in and hosted the event online.

Mike Steele, Oklahoma State University Extension director in Love County, said his team’s success is due to a good work ethic and extensive training.

“This team has competed at district and state levels for a few years, so they were well prepared for this competition,” Steele said. “Due to COVID-19, they weren’t able to practice together as a team, but we received practice information from USU Extension, and the girls were able to practice on their own.”

Janna Kelly, Pontotoc County OSU Extension director, serves as the Oklahoma superintendent for the FCS Skillathon competitions, and said there are four skills categories:

  • Sewing and clothing.
  • Housing and interior design.
  • Food and cooking.
  • Nutrition judging classes.

“When practicing, the first three categories have anywhere from 50 to 100 items the students must learn to identify. In the contest itself, each of those categories feature 25. Categories include things such as window treatments, textiles, sewing notions, cooking items, spices and other everyday household items,” Kelley said. “The nutrition class starts with a situation statement and the team puts items in order from best to worst choices.”

4-H’er Camdyn Cook said she enjoys being part of the team because she gets to learn new skills.

“Skillathon is a great competition,” Cook said. “I like the consumer judging part of the contest because I can tell which foods are healthier by reading the label. Being on the team has helped me learn so much and will help me in life.”

Cook said she also has developed her leadership and public speaking skills, as well as a stronger sense of responsibility.

“Because of the pandemic, we haven’t been able to practice in person, so it’s up to each of us to study,” she said. “If you want to succeed, you have to put the work in.”

Steele said he’s proud of the Love County team and the effort they put into the competition.

“These girls have worked so hard over the years, and it’s exciting for them and for our 4-H program to see them succeed. They deserve to be congratulated,” Steele said.

Visit the Oklahoma 4-H Youth Development website to learn more about 4-H.

MEDIA CONTACT: Trisha Gedon | Agricultural Communications Services | 405-744-3625 |

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