Youth benefit from attending National 4-H Congress

A MSU Extension 4-H educator shares his perspective on the benefits youth gain by attending the National 4-H Congress in Atlanta, Ga.

Michigan 4-H Youth Development provides opportunities for youth to develop leadership skills at the county, state, national and international level. These opportunities provide beneficial learning experiences for youth who attend these events, and can also have a positive impact on youth to help them reach their educational and career goals.

An example of a national 4-H event or conference is National 4-H Congress, a yearly national 4-H leadership conference held in Atlanta, Ga. This conference takes place in late November, beginning the day after Thanksgiving and ending the following Tuesday. This event consists of 4-H members from all over the country, including Hawaii. 4-H staff members from different states are also involved in this conference, too. I had the opportunity to serve as chaperone and on-site assistant in 2005 and 2011, and to act as a lead coordinator in 2006.

At National 4-H Congress, workshops, motivational speakers, cultural activities, different tours of Atlanta and a community service activity are held to help 4-H youth develop leadership skills. The majority of leadership conferences for youth might have many of these types of happenings, but what makes National 4-H Congress special are the cultural activities and the community service activities.

For example, two of the cultural activities are the “International Dinner and Dance” and “An Evening of Culture.” The “International Dinner and Dance” takes place at the Hyatt Regency where National 4-H Congress is held. At the dinner and dance, there are stations that represent different countries in the world and participants get to sample the various foods that specific country offers.

“An Evening of Culture,” held at the Atlanta History Center, consists of a tour of different exhibits at the museum, performances in comedy, Bluegrass and African dance, and a dinner featuring southern-style foods.

4-H members attending this conference receive a great experience by participating in a community service activity. These take place all over Atlanta, enabling participants to serve at schools, agencies and other places for the community service activities.  In 2005, I was at a nursing home with 4-H members while they interviewed the residents.  In 2006, I helped decorate a conference center for Christmas and in 2011, I served with a group of 4-H members to assist and clean up a horse barn outside of Atlanta.

I recommend 4-H members attend this conference.  Not only do 4-H members from Michigan and all over the country receive a great educational experience, but they also have an opportunity to meet new people, make new friends from other parts of the country and network.  National 4-H Congress is another opportunity for 4-H members to prepare for their future.

As a 4-H member, please consider taking advantage of this great opportunity to learn. 

As a 4-H parent or 4-H leader, please consider and look into the option of 4-H members attending this conference. 

For more information, contact your local 4-H Program at the Michigan State University (MSU) Extension office or go to the National 4-H Congress website.

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