|WRAL Farm Reporter & legend Ray Wilkinson was known for his Cecil and Leonard stories. Now a 4-H contest, sponsored by CBC, honors his memory.|
Sixteen-year-old Grace Swain is bringing back the infamous Cecil and Leonard to WRAL’s Noon News on July 30, 2013. The Tyrrell County 4-H member is the 2013 State Winner in the Cecil & Leonard Category at the recent state 4-H Congress .
Long-time WRAL Farm Reporter and CBC legend the late Ray Wilkinson was widely known for his Cecil and Leonard jokes, and the award is named in his memory.
History of the Cecil and Leonard Award
Capitol Broadcasting partnered with North Carolina 4-H in January, 1996 to endow the Ray Wilkinson 4-H Scholarship Endowment. Many close friends and professional associates established the endowment to honor Wilkinson for his lifetime commitment to 4-H. He had served as President of the North Carolina 4-H Development Fund in order to generate private financial resources to help North Carolina 4-H reach more youth with quality educational programs and opportunities to gain life skills. As a pioneer among farm broadcasters, Wilkinson’s commitment to young people helped make our communities strong.
“For over 103 years North Carolina 4-H has uniquely provided youth the opportunity to explore a project that interests them and demonstrate what they have learned to others through presentations at the club, community, county, district and state levels,” said NC State Executive Director of Development, NC 4-H and Family and Consumer Sciences and Director of Fund Development for North Carolina 4-H Programs Craven Hudson. “We hold contests at the county, district and state levels to encourage and reward 4Hers. The goal is life skill building. Not many 4-Hers will reach the Ray Wilkinson level, but tens of thousands of young people have improved their presentation and public speaking skills through 4-H. The presentation program will always be foundational to North Carolina 4-H.”
In October 2012, the idea for a 4-H Cecil and Leonard contest was born as a way to get more kids interested in 4-H Performing Arts. NC 4-H put together a plan and asked Capitol Broadcasting for financial support. CBC pledged four years of support for the Cecil and Leonard Category.
In 2013, that support paid for scholarships for 1 district winner from each of NC Cooperative Extension’s 5 districts to attend the NC 4-H Congress that was held on June 22-25 on NC State’s Campus.
“CBC’s support provided nice prizes to the 1st, 2nd and 3rd place winners,” said Hudson. “There is also sufficient funding for the state winner to travel the state promoting 4-H Expressive Arts.”
WRAL-TV Anchor/Reporter Debra Morgan made the awards presentations.
“What an honor for me to attend the 4-H Cecil and Leonard competition,” said Morgan. “These young folks really captured Ray’s charm and timing in their storytelling. Since I worked with Ray, I clearly remember his stories on and off the news desk, and this event brought back wonderful memories. Ray always made me laugh! In fact, one time my eyes became a little misty when a young man told some of the funny, short stories just like Ray used to do. I asked all of the students if they had just read the Cecil and Leonard stories or if they listened to tapes of Ray in order to prepare; all of them had listened to him. They even replicated Ray’s little snicker he used to do when he changed his voice into the characters! While it was difficult for the judges to choose a winner, Grace certainly had an amazing presentation. Her adorable country twang combined with the funny Cecil and Leonard escapades won all our hearts!”
Tune in to WRAL’s Noon News on Tuesday, July 30th, to see Swain perform her winning Cecil and Leonard piece.
WRAL-FM’s Lynda Loveland received a 4-H Lifetime Achievement Award at the 2013 North Carolina 4-H Congress. Find out more:
Thanks to NC State’s Craven Hudson for contributions to this capcom story & to WRAL.com for these capcom photos.