No, she didn’t win the Masters, but Caitlin Pruett recently donned a green jacket she had coveted for a long, long time.
It’s not for golf, but for her leadership in the Texas 4-H program.
Pruett, a senior at Slidell High School, was elected to State 4-H Council over the summer and received the treasured green jacket, along with a state 4-H ring, in September at the State Fair of Texas.
She said being elected to a state office was a longtime goal, sparked by the first time she spotted those jewel-colored jackets at a Texas 4-H Roundup when she was in seventh grade.
“I saw all the green jackets and thought, ‘That’s pretty cool,'” she said. “I saw them all week, and (the officers) were so involved and so nice, and they had a purpose for what they were doing, so I set a goal for myself to get a green jacket one day.”
Pruett is one of only four Wise County 4-Hers ever elected to the state council. As a state officer, she’s on the community service committee and will help plan a statewide community service project. She’s also on the marketing committee that will promote State Roundup in June and a committee for healthy lifestyles for the junior leadership retreat, an event planned by the state council for young 4-Hers.
She said State Roundup, the grand finale of the 4-H year, and the junior leadership retreat are the council’s two biggest events. State officers meet throughout the year at various events and supplement those meetings with video chats as needed.
They’re elected according to a point system that includes posters, speeches, interviews, an application and of course, votes. The 2014-15 state council was elected this summer and took office right away. It’s the pinnacle of a 4-H career that started in third grade.
Club leader Kim Dunlap said she’s watched Pruett grow from a giggly little girl into a poised young woman through 4-H.
“She’s always been really enthusiastic in whatever she’s doing,” Dunlap said. “She’s gone from needing to have a script to knowing how to handle herself on her feet.
“She’s an achiever, she’s highly competitive and she has a willingness to do anything,” she said.
Pruett joined 4-H when she was 9 and was elected to her first club office as a fifth grader. In addition to holding state office, she’s also vice president of the Greenwood/Slidell 4-H Club, vice president of the Wise County 4-H Council and president of District 3.
Her current 4-H projects include food and nutrition, clothing and textiles, consumer education and leadership.
She’s also active in Slidell ISD, playing basketball and running cross country and track, and is a leader in student council and Beta Club. She participates in UIL academic events and one act play and is also an active member of her youth group at the First Baptist Church of Slidell.
Before she pursued a state office, she had to give serious consideration to her other commitments and how she would fit this into her schedule.
“Looking into it, I knew I had a busy schedule, but I went with it because I made a set of goals for myself my senior year, and one of my main goals was to make a difference.
“I felt like being part of this council was going to be one of the ways I could make a difference in the program, the community and the state that has given so much to me,” she said. “This is my way of giving back.”
Pruett said 4-H has taught her life lessons and the program has given her confidence and helped build her leadership skills so that she can better communicate and work with others.
“There’s so much diversity within the 4-H program that you learn how to present yourself and how to cooperate with different types of people,” she said. “It’s helped me decide a career path. 4-H and athletics has done that.”
Although she hasn’t yet decided where she’ll attend college, she plans to become a sports dietician.
“So food and nutrition being my favorite project has sparked the nutrition side of that and having a passion of and love of sports has helped me,” she said.
Pruett said she hopes to be a good example to younger 4-Hers and wants to inspire them to pursue their interests. “I want to be the person that helps someone else start their goal, like I got mine when I was younger,” she said.