Local 4-H agent named Ryles Rising Star award winner

Published 12:39 pm Thursday, August 1, 2019

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From Staff Reports


AMERICUS — Crystal Perry, Sumter County 4-H Agent, for being named the Ryles Rising Star Award Winner recently during the Leadership Banquet at State 4-H Congress. The award is intended to recognize individuals who exhibit leadership and exemplary service while working to carry out 4-H work in the state of Georgia. The award is named in honor of former State 4-H Leader Dr. Bo Ryles and is awarded on an annual basis.

Wright certainly has an outstanding reputation as being one of the best hires made in Southwest District and beyond. Her community and her peers recognize her as a highly competent and a respected University of Georgia Extension professional. As a new agent in Sumter County, she began immediately refining relationships and building a solid 4-H youth program. She presents monthly in school programming for all fifth- and sixth-grade students during science classes. She creatively plans in-school programs based on needs assessments conducted with community leaders, school officials, parents, and students.

Wright’s program reach is significantShe leads 38 in-school, after-school and community 4-H clubs in Sumter County/ Additionally, youth enrollment has grown exponentially (from 32 members) and now serves 807 youth in Sumter County annually with educational and enrichment programming. She has 12 active volunteers as well as a Horse Club in Sumter. She developed a special grant funded project, ROCKETs (Reaching Our Community Through Kindness, Education, Togetherness and STEM) which blends 4-H programming and school gardens with mainstream students and youth with disabilities in two Sumter schools. The impact of ROCKETS is tremendous and she has shared with colleagues across the state and nation.

Bill Starr, the Sumter County Extension Coordinator, said, Crystal is one of those people that if you want something accomplished, just tell her what needs doing and she will find a way to do it. Not only will the task get done, it will be done proficiently, correctly and will be the epitome of professionalism.”

In order to manage a very active county 4-H program, maintain strong commitment to her own professional development and dedicate time to community leadership and workforce development with limited resources, Wright was awarded a grant-funded position through the Georgia 4-H AmeriCorps program. For four years, it has expanded her ability to educate and involve more youth. Crystal is more than willing to seek and secure extramural funding. She actively seeks revenue for local programming and special projects. Her search includes securing funds through local capital campaigns, grants, scholarships, and fundraisers valued at more than $160,000. Wright has strengthened volunteer development and management in Sumter County. This effort has netted over 750 volunteer hours served by trained/certified adult leaders. The cash value of these service hours is more than $18,100.

Wrights accomplishments are quite too lengthy to mention here, but she is well-known for her leadership abilities on the local, district, regional, and state levels. Among her recognitions, are the GAE4-HA Professional Achievement Award, GAE4-HA Outstanding Young Professional Award, honored by Sumter County Board of Commissioners with 4-H Youth Development Proclamation for outstanding work 2016 and Furlow Charter School Legacy of Leadership Award. She also was recognized as NAE4-HA Task Force Member-Diversity & Inclusion after she created video to highlight achievements of 4-H’er Anna Moates with Downs Syndrome. Moates just completed her freshman year at Auburn University, being the first student with Downs Syndrome at that institution. Moates, in previous interviews, has always shared her appreciation for Wright and all she did to help her in her 4-H career and beyond.