College of Agriculture, Forestry and Life Sciences; Public Service and Agriculture

4-H brings leadership skills to SC youth through Pinckney program


Round-up coming to Midlands, PeeDee, Lowcountry in 2024

Leadership training is more accessible than ever to young people in South Carolina thanks to a Clemson University Cooperative Extension program named in honor of one of the state’s most esteemed modern leaders.

Growing to three locations for the first time in 2024, the South Carolina 4-H Pinckney Leadership Round-up brings middle- and high-school students from diverse backgrounds together for hands-on skill sessions and critical dialogue with like-minded student leaders and higher-education professionals.

“South Carolina 4-H is always looking to fulfill Clemson’s land-grant mission of providing education, research and outreach in youth development,” 4-H Pinckney Leadership Program Director Rushawnda Olden said. “That was where the Leadership Round-up events originated: We asked, ‘How can we engage more youth to show up authentically for themselves, as well as for their communities, so that after leaving our event they continue to make impact in their local communities?’”

The first Pinckney Leadership Round-up was held in 2020 in Columbia, where it will return this year on Saturday, Jan. 20 for the first event of 2024 at the Brookland Banquet & Conference, 1066 Sunset Blvd., West Columbia.

The Pinckney Leadership Round-up then continues with two more events:

Tickets for each event are $20 apiece, and special workshops for parents and other responsible adults are also held during the events. 

While leadership is a frequent buzzword in youth development and many other aspects of life, Olden said it is something the Pinckney Leadership Program, S.C. 4-H Youth Development and Clemson Extension have definite ideas about how to foster in young people. 

“This year we are emphasizing community collaboration by partnering with local non-profit organizations to expand our reach. During the event we’ll highlight our partners Successteam Youth Council (Aiken, S.C.), SHE Is Me Mentoring Organization (PeeDee Region, S.C.) , and Lowcountry Youth Services (Charleston, S.C.),” she said.

The Round-up events are part of a broader effort, the 4-H Pinckney Leadership program, which has been dedicated to equipping middle- and high-school students to influence the state of South Carolina as better leaders, positive role models and engaged citizens since 2016.

The program was founded in honor of the late state Sen. Clementa Pinckney, who became the youngest African-American elected to the South Carolina General Assembly in 1996 at age 23 and was killed during a 2015 shooting at Mother Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, where he was senior pastor. It aims to set forth the principles he valued and empower students to lead with humility, serve with compassion and inspire others through integrity.

The Pinckney program is just one way Clemson Extension 4-H Youth Development helps young people in South Carolina gain the knowledge and skills to be responsible, productive and contributing members of society. This mission is accomplished by creating safe and inclusive learning environments, the involvement of caring adults, and utilizing the expertise and resources of Clemson University and the nationwide land-grant university system.

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