Nineteen Nebraska 4-H members traveled to the 100th National 4-H Congress in Atlanta, GA, held November 26 to 30. This year’s conference theme — “A Century of Empowering Youth” — focused on leadership, citizenship, global awareness, and inclusion.
National 4-H Congress is the premier leadership event for 4-H members between the ages of 15 and 19 years of age. Nebraska delegates are selected for the trip to National 4-H Congress by submitting an Achievement Application for state competition.
Nebraska 4-H members joined youth from 37 other states which brought together over 800 4-Hers from across the country. Youth participated in service-learning projects, international education, and a variety of workshops to expand their skills while being inspired to make an impact on their club, community, and country.
“It was amazing to learn what an impact 4-H can have on the clubs, communities, surrounding countries, and the world. Leadership may be declining statistically, but seeing over 800 other leaders in Atlanta really gives me hope that we can change those numbers,” Aleyna Cuttlers of Lancaster County said. “Being able to experience the National 4-H Congress is a moment in my life I will treasure for a very long time, whether it was the friends I made from all over the states or the leaderships skills I was able to gain from this truly amazing experience.”
The group, made up of high school students and a few college freshmen, attended numerous educational workshops, cultural events, and completed service-learning projects while in Atlanta. Attendees heard nationally known speakers, including Zippy Duvall, president of the American Farm Bureau, and Dr. Carrie Castille, director of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture among others. Each speaker challenged the 4-Hers to continue to be leaders and to be a catalyst for change within their communities.
“I had an amazing time at congress making new friends and I learned a lot! I plan to take things that I learned back to my county to inspire and empower youth to become the best leaders and people that they can be,” Paige Wood from Nance County said. “I plan to do so through teaching fun workshops and speaking at 4-H club meetings.”
Hunter Wiese of Dodge County shared about the importance of getting out of your comfort zone and how the National 4-H Congress empowered him to be more confident while building new skills.
“I learned to get out of my comfort zone because the faster you do that the more you get to know people. This has been the best experience I have ever had.”
Highlights of the five-day trip included a tour of Atlanta, visits to the Atlanta History Center, Martin Luther King, Jr. Visitor Center, Georgia Aquarium, Atlanta Zoo, World of Coke, the College Football Hall of Fame, and other attractions.
Youth were accompanied by Nebraska 4-H Extension Educator, Dawn Lindsley, along with Julie Kreikemeier, Colfax County 4-H Extension Educator; Lindsay Shearer, Nebraska 4-H Foundation; and Martin Wiese, a 4-H volunteer from Dodge County.
For more information National 4-H Congress, please visit 4h.unl.edu/congress.