Mason McClintock, 17, of Alma, Georgia, is the winner of the 2019 4-H Youth in Action Pillar Award for Civic Engagement, according to the National 4-H Council. McClintock will be recognized nationally for his resilience and leadership of his program, the Alma Entrepreneur Tour.
From his retro sense of style to his effervescent personality, McClintock always felt different from others his age. When 4-H came into his life, everything changed. He found a place of belonging, somewhere he could be himself and feel encouraged by adults and his peers.
“The accepting environment I’ve found in 4-H has been incredibly impactful,” McClintock said. “My 4-H leaders and peers have demonstrated empathy, humble service and a commitment to ensuring everyone feels they have a place to belong.”
As a 4-H’er, McClintock developed strong leadership and communication skills, ultimately serving as the Georgia 4-H state president. He’s now using those skills to make a difference in his small, rural hometown of Alma, where he saw an opportunity to help youth explore new careers and expand their goals for the future.
McClintock’s program, the Alma Entrepreneur Tour, focuses on rural entrepreneurship, identifying local entrepreneurs and connecting them with the community’s youth. The program raises awareness about innovation in business and demonstrates how overcoming obstacles can transform passions into possibilities.
McClintock’s program teaches youth entrepreneurial principles while exposing them to new fields. From financial institutions and inns to department stores and agricultural operations, he has introduced more than 50 youth to a variety of new career pathways. McClintock hopes that these experiences will encourage his peers to pursue the fields they find interesting.
“I hoped that if I could find a way to expose rural students to new businesses and workforces started by entrepreneurs in Alma, maybe that would be the spark they needed to realize it just takes perseverance to use your passions to create the life you want for yourself,” he said.
McClintock will receive a $5,000 scholarship for higher education and will serve as an advocate and spokesperson for 4-H Civic Engagement programming. He will be recognized as the 2019 4-H Youth in Action Pillar Winner for Civic Engagement at the 10th Annual 4-H Legacy Awards in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday, March 12. Three other 2019 Youth in Action Pillar winners, Addy Battel of Michigan (Agriculture Pillar winner); Elisabeth Watkins of California (Healthy Living Pillar winner); and Clyde Van Dyke of New York (STEM Pillar winner), also will be recognized.
The 4-H Youth in Action Awards were established 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 community.
Amelia Day of Fort Valley, Georgia, won the 2017 National 4-H Youth in Action Citizenship award for creating the nonprofit organization Operation: Veteran Smiles to provide care packages to veterans in Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) hospitals. Sophia Rodriguez of Hinesville, Georgia, was awarded the 2018 National 4-H Youth in Action Healthy Living Pillar Award for her program promoting the emotional well-being of children in military families through her Tie-Dye for Troops program.