New York State 4-H sends debut delegation to National 4-H Congress

In 2018, New York State 4-H sent its first delegation to National 4-H Congress, in Atlanta GA ! Two delegates wrote about their experience and we are sharing that here. If you are interested in learning about National 4-H Congress or attending in 2019, please contact Jamila Walida Simon.

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National 4-H Congress
Julia Schucker 

            National 4-H Congress was an intriguing, amazing and inspirational experience.  It was a five-day event that engaged in many different activities.  Some of these included inspirational speakers, assorted workshops and a community service activity.  There would also be a highlighted event every night including an International dinner and dance and a trip to the Atlanta History Center.  The event was concluded with an extraordinary gala. 

            My favorite part of this event was the speakers. Every night a unique individual would share a little bit about their story.  The goal was to teach a lesson about leadership, setting goals, encouraging yourself and finding yourself.  We got to meet Miss America and, Dan Clark, a voice actor for Donald Duck. We were told stories of climbing the world’s tallest mountain by John Beede and how a pair of shoes changed one man’s life through Samaritan’s Feet.

            National 4-H Congress was an amazing event.  I believe it would be an amazing event for anyone who wants to learn about leadership skills, becoming a better person or simply wanting to see the sights of the Atlanta area.


National 4-H Congress:  Why Every 4-Her Should Get the Chance to Go
Casey Hill

4-H National Congress has been one of the most amazing experiences the 4-H program has enabled me to have.  I have learned new skills, met youth from all over the country, participated in service, and most of all have had a great time in sessions and beyond. My trip began bright an early at 2 a.m. on Thanksgiving Day, but lucky for me, that early start was the only downside to the entire trip.  Our arrival at the Congress Center was greeted with warm smiles and plenty of Southern hospitality and welcomes.  All of the other states and conference planners were ecstatic to see that New York was finally attending!  Though our delegation was small, only 2 youth from Orange County, we sure made a big impact in our attendance.  

            The conference officially began with the keynote speaker, John Beede.  Beede truly got the conference started with a bang, as an inspirational speaker who shared his story of having climbed the tallest mountain on every continent, including Everest.  Beede reminded us of the importance of overcoming fear in ourselves and in others as well as how critical the partnership of teamwork can be to success. He encouraged us to start our list of 100 goals and action toward each today!  Later that evening we had a getting acquainted orientation where we traded pins and played games with 950 + other youth and had fun doing it while breaking the ice and making new friends from around the country.  I gained new ice breaking games that I will be able to use in my work as a camp counselor at 4-H Camp Shankitunk, while expanding my own 4-H network of peers.

            Saturday and Sunday were full of more speakers, such as Manny Ohonme, founder of a service initiative known as Samaritan’s Feet,and 4-H Alumna Sophia Rodriguez, as well as plenty of interesting workshops.  I expanded my knowledge about the importance of community service and service learning while also participating in several hands on service opportunities.  Saturday night I participated in an International Dinner Dance with food from all over the world.  There were huge displays and even entertainment that celebrated the diversity within the 4-H program.  The Hawaii and Puerto Rico delegations of youth shared their own cultural dances with us which were fabulous to watch.  It helps me to better understand how global 4-H really is when you see states and nations come together in a community celebration such as this conference.

            We had a special visit to the Atlanta History Center which was full of fun adventure.  We learned traditional step dancing, and I even got to participate in a dance called the Carolina Promenade.  We listened to a blue grass band, watched an inspirational comedian who talked to us about the importance of being our best selves in service to others, and then we joined in some African dancing.  My head is spinning thinking of all of the rich cultural diversity and important messages of inspiration that filtered to us all week in so many different capacities.

            Monday brought my favorite part of the week, the service project at the Atlanta Public Schools.  I got to go into the classroom and teach fifth graders a 45-minute lesson on the importance of Poultry Production to the Georgia economy.  Learning the lesson was part of my training during the week but I was able to really capitalize on my experience as a camp counselor in our own home state to bring the lesson to life for the kids.  In addition to delivering my lesson, I helped kids in a third grade class with reading and with a writing project. Working one on one with these kids was a very special experience.  While our visit was brief, only a few hours, I feel like I made a big impact for the youth that I worked with.  It was very empowering.  Monday night ended with a formal gala where we dressed our best and shared a delicious meal and great dance with our new friends from across the country.

            The National 4-H Congress was truly an unforgettable experience and any 4-H member could benefit immensely from being a part of this experience.  The knowledge, the skills, the friendships, and the opportunities to give back in service were all invaluable experiences that really capture the rich essence of my 4-H experience through the years.  I would strongly encourage New York State 4-H to find a way to support this initiative for other youth around the state.  This is a fabulous capstone experience to any 4-H member’s tenure and should definitely be made available next year and beyond.

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