2013 National 4-H Congress Makes the Best Better

Instead of hitting the stores on Black Friday as many of their peers did, 20 Michigan 4-H'ers packed their bags and headed south on Nov. 29 for the 2013 National 4-H Congress.

Instead of hitting the stores on Black Friday as many of their peers did, 20 2013 National 4-H Congress delegationMichigan 4-H’ers packed their bags and headed south on Nov. 29 for the 2013 National 4-H Congress. A 4-H tradition for 92 years, 4-H National Congress was created to recognize state and national project winners. Today, the event gathers more than 1,000 4-H delegates from across the United States and Puerto Rico to celebrate achievements and provide a unique development opportunity for the next generation of leaders.

The five-day event, hosted in Atlanta, was planned by 4-H youth from across the country and featured educational workshops focused on character education, agriculture, cultural awareness and diversity education, workforce preparation, leadership development, environmental stewardship, science and technology literacy, communication skills and more. Participants also heard from keynote speaker Dr. Eugen Schoenfeld, a Holocaust survivor, about the importance of living with purpose and becoming a leader. Delegates also spent time giving back to the host community by volunteering in the  Atlanta public schools, cleaning up public parks and helping build a Habitat for Humanity house, among other great projects.

Michigan 4-H youth chosen to represent the state at the National 4-H Congress were Dakota Abbeg (Hillsdale County), Rebecca Christmas (Ingham County), Clara Churchill (Marquette County), Grace DeGelder (Montcalm County), Owen DeVooght (Marquette County), Davis Fettes (Branch County), Karie Haag (Sanilac County), Emma Hohman (Marquette County), Sierra Jezuit (Ingham County), Rebecca Leslie (Sanilac County), Hannah Livingston (Marquette County), Caleb Loomis (Gratiot County), Paige McCafferty (Hillsdale County), Bethany Pirman (Marquette County), Samuel Robison (Isabella County), Kenneth Smith (Mecosta County), Courtney Souva (Branch County), Shelby Talsma (Marquette County), David Utley (Lapeer County) and Chad Wolff, Jr (Hillsdale County).

"National 4-H Congress was a top-of-the-line learning experience,” commented 18-year-old Loomis, a first-time attendee. “It gave us the opportunity to explore our true potential as 4-H youth and as leaders."

Also attending were Michigan State University (MSU) Extension staff members Matthew Newman and Roxanne Turner, who served as chaperones, and MSU Extension director  Tom Coon, who is a member of the National 4-H Congress Board of Directors.

“It was inspiring to watch 4-H youth from across the state come together and forge new friendships while taking part in a life-changing conference,” Newman said.  “I am confident this weekend and the lessons learned will not soon be forgotten by any of the delegates.”

In addition to changing the lives of the youth who attended, the National 4-H Congress also made an impression on the city of Atlanta. The 20 Michigan 4-H delegates and those from across the country were so endearing to the people of Atlanta that members and staff members fielded questions throughout the trip from area residents who wanted to learn more about what 4-H is and how they could get their own children involved.


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