The GrassRoots

Communications > The GrassRoots > Posts > Elmore County 4-H and FFA Students Win First Place in Come Alive Outside Challenge

Seven groups of Alabama 4-H and FFA students, along with their advisors and Auburn University student mentor participated in the Come Alive Outside Challenge. Groups included Covington County 4-H, Crossville FFA, Enterprise High School, Gulf Shores High School, Wadley FFA, Zion Chapel FFA and Elmore County 4-H and FFA.

Of those groups, the Elmore County 4-H and FFA won first place and $1,500 for Elmore County 4-H programs. Betty Striker, 4-H volunteer leader, spearheaded the group along with Elmore County 4-H Agent Tyler Gates. The two of them and several group members will attend PLANET's GIC Oct. 23. The event was sponsored by John Deere, JP Horizons and PLANET.

Members of the Elmore County group are: Betty Stricker, Katrina Mitchell, Tyler Gates, William Norris and Chase Roberts (Wetumpka HS FFA students), Sean Mackey and Noah Carter (4-H'ers). The Auburn student mentor was Jack LeCroy.

video stillThe Come Alive Outside program was started by Jim Paluch at JP Horizons in 2010 in response to the sedentary, indoor lifestyle that is contributing to a multitude of adverse effects in our society, especially young people. The movement encourages individuals, families, businesses and communities to find ways to encourage citizens to be active and get back into the great outdoors.

In early 2012 John Deere asked JP Horizons Inc., to create a way to bring high school FFA students together with college horticulture students. John Deere saw this as a powerful way to get young people to help communities take action and "Come Alive Outside".

In Alabama, 4-H groups, FFA chapters, educators, students and Auburn University student mentors have done a tremendous job taking what that learned about Come Alive Outside and sharing it with their communities. Each one of the groups taking part in the challenge created a video documenting their project. Each group was required to receive 100 votes or more for their video documentary. A panel of seven leaders from John Deere, PLANET and JP Horizons evaluated and scored the groups on the following criteria to determine a winner:

  • How well the Come Alive Outside message was shared with the community
  • How well they engaged evident children and adults in the project
  • Creativity and energy evident in the Come Alive Outside video documentary
  • The essay submitted by the Auburn student mentor of best things learned through the Come Alive Outside Challenge experience
  • How well the group understood the Come Alive Outside vision that "Everybody wins when somebody goes outside"

"I was amazed at how your group embraced the purpose and spirit of the Come Alive Outside Challenge," said Ken Taylor with John Deere. "I was impressed with the project the Elmore team developed and the effort everyone put into it. I also applaud your initiative to engage legislative leaders in your community involvement project and that Representative Wren attended the activities at Ft. Toulouse State Park and wrote a letter praising what you did. This is how we create a movement."

The Elmore County team reached out to more than 25 local businesses, organizations, city officials, media representatives, as well as individuals to help advertise the event and take part in it. To the team's surprise, the number of people wanting to take part increased as the event unveiled. Ft. Toulouse visitors including some archeology college students from Chicago, campers from Canada, area Master Gardeners and many others joined in the activities of the day, according to Jack LeCroy, the Auburn University student mentor for Come Alive Outside.

To view the essay by Auburn student mentor Jack LeCroy visit:

To view the winning video visit: