Slowly walking to the podium at the front of the room, deep breath, those first words coming easily and confidently, wowing the audience…this is the feeling of excellence. Ask anyone who attended the 2011 4-H Tropicana Public Speaking Contest and they will tell you excellence is what they witnessed that day. The 4-H Tropicana speech contest is an opportunity for youth to gain valuable public speaking skills. This annual contest is a school enrichment project offered through the UF/Madison County Extension 4-H Youth Development program. As with all 4-H programs, there are specific lifeskills targeted in this project including: building self-esteem, communication, planning, organization, and critical thinking. The project is designed to assist teachers in helping their students achieve the required benchmarks in FCAT and other standardized testing. Without the help of our wonderful teachers we would not be able to have such a successful program. Thank you to all of the curriculum coordinators and teachers that are involved in helping these students develop their speeches; you are our driving force. Dolly Ballard, Heather Futch, and Pat Lightcap performed the difficult task of judging the speeches of these inspiring students. Before the awards ceremony, the judges congratulated each of the competitors on a job well done and gave them general tips on improving their public speaking skills. Each of the judges encouraged the students to continue developing their speaking skills while reminding them how important this lifeskill will be to them as an adult. In the fourth grade division: 1st Place- Ashonee Anthony “My First Day at Greenville Elementary School” from Greenville Elementary; 2nd Place- Journey Aust “Kids Can Make A Difference” from Pinetta Elementary; 3rd Place- Claire Maultsby “My Sister and Her Cancer” from Madison Academy; Honorable Mention went to Chyna Frazier “My Family and Me” from Madison County Central School. In the fifth grade division: 1st Place- Hannah Zimmerly “Childhood Obesity” from Madison Academy; 2nd Place- Ahmod Powell “My Life as a Farmer” from Greenville Elementary; 3rd Place- Callie Henderson “The Fur Coat Animal” from Lee Elementary; Honorable Mention went to Denetra Lee “The Steps for Becoming an Actress” from Madison County Central School. In the 6th grade division: 1st Place- Tyler Burnett “What I Want to Be When I Grow Up” from Madison County Central School; 2nd Place- Summer Langell “In the Blink of an Eye” from Madison Academy; 3rd Place- Kaitlyn Kinsey “My Brother Levi” from New Testament Christian Academy; Honorable Mention went to Tru’vell McNealy from LATMA. Congratulations to each of our winners at the classroom, school, and county levels! By: Becky V. Bennett 4-H Youth Development Agent The Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (IFAS) is an Equal Employment Opportunity—Affirmative Action Employer authorized to provide research, educational information and other services only to individuals and institutions that function with non-discrimination with respect to race, creed, color, religion, age, disability, sex, sexual orientation, marital status, national origin, political opinions or affiliations. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Cooperative Extension Service, University of Florida, IFAS, Florida A.&M. University Cooperative Extension Program, and Boards of County Commissioners Cooperating.