For nearly two decades, Middle Tennessee residents have woken up to hear Lelan Statom’s weather report on News Channel 5. He credits his success to skills that he first learned in 4-H.
“I think participating in the public speaking and demonstration contests helped lay the foundation for what I do now, “ explained Statom. “While I hated the extemporaneous part of the speaking contests, it serves me very well now since I ad-lib the weather forecasts during newscasts.”
Statom, who was a member of his local club from elementary school all the way to the collegiate level, completed the Photography Project and even had a small garden. He served on State Council during his time at Dyersburg High School and then went on to participate in 4-H at the collegiate level during his time at the University of Tennessee – Knoxville.
As an adult, Statom remained active in 4-H as a volunteer in Knox, Sullivan and Davidson counties during different moves throughout his news career, which afforded him the opportunity to see 4-H in action across the state.
Statom and his wife, Yolanda, have two children who each participated in Tennessee 4-H growing up. His daughter, Kayela, is currently working as a 4-H Extension Educator through Cornell University in Troy, New York.
Today, Statom serves on the Tennessee 4-H Foundation Board of Directors and hosts the History Bowl at Congress each year.
Q: Where did you grow up and which 4-H Club did you participate in?
A: I grew up in Dyersburg in West Tennessee. Early on, I was part of 4-H Clubs at Jennie Bell Elementary and Dyersburg Middle. In high school, I was part of the club at Dyersburg High, and that’s when I was most active in 4-H on the local and state levels.
Q: What 4-H activities were you involved in?
A: My main project was photography, but I also had a small garden. In high school, I had the opportunity to do a host of projects, including those speeches and demonstrations, but I also got the opportunity to serve on the State Council. In college, I was involved with Collegiate 4-H at the University of Tennessee – Knoxville, and worked as Athletic Director at the old Milan 4-H Camp. I am so happy about the future of Lone Oaks and camping returning to the west state.
Q: What was the biggest lesson you learned from your time in 4-H?
A: I think participating in the public speaking and demonstration contests helped lay the foundation for what I do now. While I hated the extemporaneous part of the speaking contests, it serves me very well now since I ad-lib the weather forecasts during newscasts.
Q: If you could give one piece of advice to a 4-H student, what would it be?
A: Set a goal, and do your best to make it happen! It’s okay if you have to adjust your plans a bit. The line I use when speaking to youth groups is attitude plus determination plus faith equals success.
Q: How has 4-H impacted your life, even after graduating from the program?
A: I stayed active as an adult volunteer and worked with 4-H’ers in Knox, Sullivan and Davidson counties as I moved for career reasons. That gave me the opportunity to see 4-H in action across the state. Both my children, Kayela and Taylor, were involved in
4-H, and now my daughter is working in Extension. In August, she became a 4-H/AG Extension Educator through Cornell University in Troy, New York. My wife, Yolanda, and I are very happy for her, but WOW, it’s 1,000 miles away.
Q: How are you still involved with 4-H?
A: I’m on the board of directors for the Tennessee 4-H foundation. I served several years ago, and I’m happy to help advise again. Also, every year, I’m honored to host the History Bowl at Congress. It’s something I competed in as a 4-H’er.
Q: Where are some interesting places you’ve been or things you’ve done thanks to opportunities provided to you from Tennessee 4-H?
A: When I was on State Council, I had the honor to be a 4-H exchange student for a
10-day camp in West Virginia. It was a beautiful camp setting. With Collegiate 4-H, I had the opportunity to visit a host of colleges for regional and national conferences, including the University of Georgia, Purdue, University of Wisconsin and West Virginia University.