UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — 4-H member Norah Carter, of Allegheny County, was announced as the Healthy Living Pillar winner for the 2023 4-H Youth in Action Awards.
According to the National 4-H Council, the 4‑H Youth in Action Program recognizes four confident young leaders with diverse backgrounds and unique perspectives in the core pillar areas of agriculture, civic engagement, healthy living and STEM. Pillar winners spend a year telling their 4‑H story and celebrating their leadership.
— A $5,000 higher education scholarship.
— Opportunities to showcase their 4‑H impact story.
— An all-expenses paid trip to a National 4‑H Council event.
— Networking opportunities with 4‑H celebrities and other prominent alumni.
— Recognition as the official 4‑H youth spokesperson for their pillar.
During the pandemic, Carter set out to provide youth with a positive outlet for mental health. She developed and led a series of educational workshops for teens and tweens about mindfulness and stress-management coping mechanisms.
“We did yoga sessions and talked about resiliency and making better choices,” she said. “Through those seminars, mental health became a big focus of mine.”
Carter noted that the topic of health always has been part of her life due to her own experiences with disability, surgery and physical therapy. At six years old, she joined Riding for the Handicapped of Western Pennsylvania, a therapeutic horseback riding program for children and young adults with disabilities.
Seeking opportunities to participate in competitive horse events, Carter became involved in the North Ridge Riders 4-H club.
“When I was young, I thought 4-H was just a horse organization,” Carter said. “And I love horses. But I discovered so many new passions through 4-H, especially for civic engagement and leadership.”
Throughout the past decade, she has piloted a 4-H county council and served as the 2021 Pennsylvania 4-H State Council vice president of operations. She also has participated in equine showing and judging, the Science of Agriculture Challenge, Capital Days, the Health Rocks program, and other events.
“4-H has changed my life in so many ways,” Carter said. “When I was young, I was underestimated due to the way I walked, my short height and my bubbly personality. 4-H helped me find my voice as a leader. In my career, I want to be an advocate for people, specifically for disability rights.”
Carter is a first-year student at Denison University, in Granville, Ohio. She studies philosophy, politics and economics and is considering a global health minor.
Her advice to other 4-H’ers? “Always find how you uniquely can be successful, because you’ll never have the exact same story as everyone else,” she said. “But if you use your specific experiences, add those to the conversation and be unapologetically you, you’ll make a positive impact on any organization or project.”
The 4-H Youth in Action Awards began in 2010 to recognize 4-H’ers who have overcome challenges and used the knowledge they gained in 4-H to create a lasting impact in their communities.
“I absolutely did not expect to win it — it’s a huge honor to win,” Carter said. “I’m so excited for the opportunities that are coming, for the chance to share my story, and to advocate for mental health and the 4-H programs that have impacted me.”
Administered in Pennsylvania by Penn State Extension, 4-H is a nonformal educational youth-development program of the United States Department of Agriculture that helps young people develop knowledge and skills to become capable, caring and contributing citizens. To find your local program, visit the Penn State Extension website at https://extension.psu.edu/
–Alexandra McLaughlin, Penn State University