September 19, 2007 | By: Aimee Nielson

Kentucky’s own Rodger Bingham, aka “Kentucky Joe,” is most famous for the time he spent on the popular CBS reality series “Survivor.” More recently he took part in another survivor project, but this time he had no chance of being voted off. 

Grant County 4-H’ers asked Bingham to endorse their new student-produced video called “Surviving 4-H.” The video depicts how 4-H gives youth survival skills for life. 

Bingham was raised, and still lives, in Grant County. He said he was active in 4-H during his youth and has always supported the organization.

“4H is a great organization; I think it develops character among the youth,” he said. “It develops certain work habits, it develops leadership and we can instill that in the youth of our state. 4-H does that, and does a very good job of it.”

Video producers and 4-H members Anthony Sarcione and John Siedenberg said the survivor-themed video was funded by a Science, Engineering and Technology grant through the Young Professional Organization at Williamstown High School. The school’s principal said the project gave the students real-world experience.

“Oftentimes in school, we have bookwork, and then we go out into the world and have jobs and things,” Bob Elliott said. “This is a good connection between school, their jobs and careers. It gives them some hands-on experience.”

The video was entirely student-produced. Sarcione filmed and directed the actors, and Siedenberg acted and also helped edit the final project.

“The themes that 4-H teaches are really good for real-life situations,” Siedenberg said. “It teaches you to be a better citizen and a better person all around.” 

When it came to asking someone for an endorsement, Siedenberg and Sarcione agreed Bingham was the best person for the job. They said he basically is a celebrity in Grant County and around Kentucky, and most everyone recognizes him.

Sarcione said they initially thought of asking Bingham to host the show but decided he would probably be too busy to be there as much as would be necessary. They decided, instead, to ask Joyce Doyle, Grant County extension agent for 4-H youth development to host.

“Mrs. Doyle is funny too, so she worked really well,” he said. 

“Since Mrs. Doyle is the leader for 4-H in Grant County, it was a good idea to see her as part of the show,” Siedenberg added. 
Doyle was very supportive of the students’ efforts and believed they made very good use of the grant money. She said she sees a potential for the video to be a tool not only for Grant County 4-H, but also for 4-H statewide.

“It’s going to be a good thing for us to show other people about joining 4-H … and it’s all about teamwork. And that’s what 4-H is all about, because in 4-H our motto is ‘learn by doing,’” she said. 

Interestingly before “Survivor,” Bingham taught industrial arts in Grant County, and Doyle was his principal. Bingham returned to teaching after his reality-show stint; however, he later retired from teaching to become Kentucky’s agricultural marketing spokesman under Kentucky Agricultural Commissioner Richie Farmer.

Sarcione and Siedenberg plan to visit other 4-H clubs and schools in the state to talk about how they produced the video. They said they won’t approach it as an instructional lecture, but more of a “this is what we learned, and we’d be glad to help you through it.”


Joyce Doyle, 859-824-3355