According to research, 4-H’ers are four times more likely to give back to their community. Pontotoc County 4-H member, John David “J.D.” Chism is a young man who is committed to helping others and giving back to our community. He is very conscientious about everything he does and has a willingness to serve that far outreaches most of his age.
J.D. is the son of Mark and Audra Chism. He is a recent graduate of Pontotoc High School where he was a member of the Swim Team, Cross Country Team, and Fellowship of Christian Athletes. He has been an official member of Pontotoc County 4-H for eleven years but was at 4-H events with his sister as soon as he was old enough to “drag his sister’s large cattle around and sweep the aisle in the barn”. He has excelled in 4-H on the county, district, state, and national levels. J.D. has served in numerous leadership positions, including President of the Pontotoc County 4-H Junior Council and as a director for the National Junior Santa Gertrudis Association.
He has been active in the 4-H Livestock Project, competing at every level. Not only does he exhibit his livestock, but he is active in competitions that challenge his knowledge of livestock and gives presentations on all aspects of livestock care. By participating in the livestock program J.D. has learned responsibility, time management, sportsmanship, citizenship, and most importantly leadership. He has become a great leader and he has also become a great role model for all the young people that he is around in 4-H at livestock shows or within his school and community.
When asked about the characteristics that 4-H helped him develop, he says, “4-H has taught me that community service and spirit is important in small towns like ours. I have volunteered at Relay for Life, Spring Fling, Mississippi Day, and many church youth activities. I have learned to lead crews and respect teamwork and other’s ideas. I believe in doing my part to help my family and make my community better.”
J.D. comes from a family of 4-H members and volunteers. He says, “An influential volunteer in my life would be my grandad, Wade Stegall, or “Popa” as I called him. He was what I think all 4-H volunteers should be. He was always behind the scene and he definitely made an impact on an entire community and not just ours. He always made sure programs had what they needed to go on, whether it was money or manpower. He wanted it to be the best and the kids to benefit. I love the fact that any kid in several counties that wanted to show livestock had an animal. He provided goats for several years to kids in two counties. His main goal was to make sure the beef program carried on. The County Fair was his favorite time of the year. Not just the beef program, but Senior Day, Children’s Day, the rodeo, and all the youth events. He is what I think a volunteer should be!”
Showing livestock in 4-H has opened many doors for J.D. He has traveled across the Southeast with livestock and 4-H. J.D. says, “I have met some of the greatest friends that will last a lifetime. Along the way, I realized that livestock always comes first and this has helped me learn patience and responsibility. I have shown goats, lambs, chickens, and of course, my main project, beef.”
When asked about his plans, J.D. says, “I plan to pursue a degree in Forestry at Itawamba Community College and then on to Mississippi State University. I would like to carry on the family business where I have worked summers and afternoons at the sawmill. I also hope to my own herd of cattle. Pontotoc and north Mississippi will always be my home and I want to be able to give back to my community through volunteerism and caring for families in need.”
J.D. has received numerous scholarships and awards. Recently he was chosen as the very deserving recipient of the following Pontotoc County 4-H Scholarships: Mississippi Volunteer Homemakers Scholarship, Joe Phil Whitten Scholarship, Joe Pennington Memorial Scholarship, and the Wade Stegall Scholarship.
Just like J.D.’s experiences in 4-H you can learn to be the best you can be and how to lead and serve others by volunteering and helping others in your community and world. If you would like the opportunity to serve others in your community, please call the Pontotoc County Extension Office at 662-489-3910, and ask for Jane Chamblee your 4-H Agent.