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Division of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources

Oklahoma 4-H’er feels humbled to honor veterans

STILLWATER, Okla. – While many people across the state are gearing up for a long holiday weekend by spending time at the lake or getting together for a cookout with friends, one Oklahoma 4-H Youth Development club member in Payne County will be working on his citizenship project. And because it’s just what 4-H’ers do, he’ll have some fellow club members working alongside him.

Payne County 4-H’er Preston Prock believes in paying his respects to all the veterans who sacrificed so much for our freedom. He shows that appreciation through his Adopt a Cemetery project as part of his citizenship project work in 4-H. (Photo provided)

Cushing, Oklahoma, resident Preston Prock, a member of the Twin Mounds 4-H Club, will be placing flags on the graves of veterans buried at Greenwood Cemetery near Yale, Oklahoma, as well as a cemetery near his hometown

The 18-year-old recent high school graduate, said he began this project in October 2016 as a way to not only honor area veterans, but as a special way to honor his father, Monty Prock. His father, who passed away in January 2015, served in the Vietnam War with United States Navy from 1963-1966.

“Normally, flags are placed by veteran organizations such as the American Legion or the VFW Most of the members of these organizations are getting older and it’s getting more difficult for them to bend over and place the flags,” Prock said. “When I saw this, it gave me an idea.”

Prock said he remembered earlier in his 4-H career, his club had placed flags as a service project. He then realized he wanted to expand on that as a way to honor war heroes, especially his father.

“I asked myself what I could do to show respect to those who so much deserve it,” he said. “So, in October last year I challenged other county clubs to adopt a cemetery in Payne County and assist with the placing of flags for Veteran’s Day. I brought the idea to Summer Leister, the Payne County 4-H Extension educator, and she sent out an email with my challenge.”

He said he began receiving emails from other county clubs asking how they could get involved. He even received calls from clubs in Arizona, Michigan and New Mexico, who had learned about his project through the Oklahoma 4-H Youth Development Facebook page. Shortly after that he began visiting area clubs to tell them what steps they needed to take to start their own Adopt a Cemetery project.

“The first thing 4-H’ers need to do is talk to the owners or caretakers of the cemetery in their area. They also should talk to local VFW and American Legion organizations who typically do this,” Prock said. “In most cases, these organizations already have the flags, they just need help placing them.”

His Adopt a Cemetery project launched last Veteran’s Day and his project work will continue this Memorial Day weekend.

“I’m healthy and able to place a flag on my father’s grave, but I think of how many of our dedicated war heroes who no longer have family members left in the area to decorate their graves,” he said. “It’s important to honor these veterans who gave so much so we’re able to experience the freedoms we have today. Just because a veteran doesn’t have family around doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be recognized. There are a lot of small cemeteries around, and these often are the most forgotten. The main thing is they all deserve to be recognized. My citizenship project is one way I can do my part. Not only do we place the flags, but we go back later and remove them so they’re ready next time.”

Prock believes by participating in this project, his fellow 4-H’ers gain a better understanding of what our veterans have gone through and the respect they deserve. For him, it’s more than simply placing a flag at a grave. It’s also an opportunity to tell the members of the VFW and American Legion thank you in person.

“Every veteran we say thank you to is one more who knows they are appreciated. I hope it helps them understand there are people who love and support them for what they did for us,” he said. “The more people we have involved, the further we can go with this project.”

His nine years of leadership and citizenship activities played a role in him being successful with this project, as well as many other things in life.

“4-H is the reason I’m where I am today. I’m a good leader, public speaker and citizen because of 4-H,” he said. “I always want to give 100 percent and be the best I can be.”

For more information about starting an Adopt a Cemetery project in your area, please contact the Payne County Cooperative Extension Office at 405-747-8320.



Trisha Gedon
Communications Specialist
Agricultural Communications Services
Oklahoma State University
136 Agriculture North
Stillwater, OK  74078
405-744-3625 (phone)
405-744-5739 (fax)

Oklahoma State University - Stillwater, OK 74078

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