National 4-H Congress provides leadership training and recognition for high school youth

4-H holds a national event each year for youth who exhibit leadership skills and the potential to grow more.

The National 4-H Congress is one of the premiere experiences for 4-H members across the country to participate in. The event has been in existence for 91 years, but has changed from its original location in Chicago to Atlanta, Georgia. According to the National 4-H Congress, the event “provides a life-changing experience for youth to meet other 4-H members from across America, as they participate in educational workshops focusing on diversity, cultural experiences, leadership, team development, and of course having fun!” The website also states that the program is a mix of educational, service and recreational opportunities.

Some of the 2013 workshops that were a large part of the experience at national congress include:

  • Conflict resolution and bullying prevention
  • Expanding horizons through group involvement
  • GTL – Give, talk, learn: The power of service learning
  • Making 4-H YOUR program
  • Physical activity for people with mobility challenges
  • Robots for rookies
  • National 4-H junk drawer robotics curriculum
  • Social media- social media is it a boon or a bust?
  • The coolness of science
  • The food challenge
  • Think globally….think agri-science
  • Why leadership? Why me?

National Congress also focuses on community service and participants spend part of their time in service in the Atlanta area. Examples of community service projects include preparing meals and doing maintenance at homeless shelters, helping with schools, and community park and nature trail maintenance.

This event also provides two other leadership opportunities for select youth who apply for the leadership team during the event and the design team which meet to plan the event. Each state can nominate three youth to complete an application for the design team. The nominees must include a letter of introduction, a two-page resume, a one-page statement of the individual’s philosophy of leadership and a video of introduction to the selection committee along with two recommendations from leader and staff members. The selection application for the leadership team at the event is a similar process. The application process is rigorous, but well worth the time if selected for one of the teams.

Michigan 4-H usually sends a small delegation of 10-12 to the National Congress event. It is considered one of the most prestigious 4-H leadership and civic engagement opportunities for high school aged young people.

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