PHOTO: Matt Barton, UK Agricultural Communications
Music has been Halie Sawyers’ passion since she first started belting out tunes as a child. But it was not until she joined the Kentucky 4-H Performing Arts Troupe and Leadership Board that the Todd County native learned how her passion could transform her into a leader and guide her to a future career path.
“Becoming a member of the troupe was one of the best decisions I have ever made,” Sawyers said. “It has helped me grow as a leader, a musician and a person.”
Sawyers was a high school freshman when Lee Ann McCuiston, Todd County 4-H agent with the University of Kentucky Cooperative Extension Service, encouraged her to try out for the troupe in 2012.
“When Halie entered the Todd County 4-H Variety Show as a 9-year-old, she stole the show with her big voice and amazing stage presence. She won every year she entered,” McCuiston said. “When the 4-H Performing Arts Troupe was created, I knew I had to get her on the board.”
That was the first year for the Performing Arts Troupe and Leadership Board, which formed due to the popularity of the Talent Track at 4-H Teen Conference. Kentucky 4-H’ers in grades eight through 11 can apply and audition to become a member of the statewide troupe. Those selected perform at a variety of 4-H and other UK Cooperative Extension events. They also attend a music camp, advise the state 4-H staff on performing arts projects, teach younger 4-H’ers about the arts during 4-H Summit and learn about careers in the arts.
The first troupe had six members. Sawyers was the only freshman.
During the next four years, Sawyers involvement with 4-H and her community grew. Not only was she traveling with the troupe, but she also attended 4-H Issues and Teen conferences as a participant. She became the host of the Todd County 4-H Variety Show and began seeking out service opportunities to serve and better her community.
“I’ve always been interested in leadership, but being part of the troupe gave me the confidence, skills and resources I needed to become a leader in an area I’m passionate about, so I can help others discover their passion for it,” she said.
In May, Sawyers graduated as the valedictorian of Todd County High School, and in June, she ended her time with the troupe.
“People often talk about performers having ‘it.’ Halie Sawyers has ‘it,’ and she is going to use her talent to make the world a better place,” said Jennifer Tackett, 4-H youth development specialist and troupe director.
While her stint in the troupe has come to a close, she credits the troupe with helping her find her next adventure. Sawyers had always wanted to use her musical talents to impact children, particularly those with special needs. After meeting with professional musical therapists on a troupe field trip, she knew how she could combine her passions into a career. She will begin pursuing a degree in musical therapy this fall.
Jennifer Tackett, 859-323-4842; Lee Ann McCuiston, 270-265-5659