In April, four Connecticut 4-H members and chaperone Rineicha Otero of UConn Extension attended the National 4-H Conference in Washington D.C. Each of the 4-H members participated in a roundtable project. Their assignments were:
Molly Barnett – Adolescent Health – Presenting to the Department of Health and Human Services
Lily Barton – Military Families – Presenting to National Guard Bureau
Danielle Brazeau – Future of Agriculture – Presenting to U.S. House of Representatives Agriculture Committee
Ben Hipsky – Energy Conservation/Environment – Presenting to the Department of Energy
Rineicha Otero – Food Security/Hunger – Presenting to Peace Corps
Several of them reflected on the experience.
I’m blessed to have had the inspiring opportunity to attend the National 4-H Conference this past week. I worked with a group of delegates from across the U.S. and Canada to prepare a presentation on our opinions and ideas concerning adolescent health. After several conferences to discuss our thoughts and create a presentation, we presented to the Department of Health and Human Services. I felt like they really appreciated our perspective, and I’m honored to represent today’s teenage generation, and to help make a difference.
This has also been a special opportunity to meet many amazing people. I talked with teens from a diversity of 4-H backgrounds, and although our experiences and projects differed, we all shared the same love and passion for them. It was a great experience for me to connect and talk with these wonderful people, and I learned that I can make friends wherever I go in life. I also learned how great it is to embrace these opportunities when they come. This whole trip just really made me excited for the rest of my life, and I know I can have a voice in this world too. I’m feeling very grateful and I can’t wait to share what I learned with others in my community.
The 2015 National 4-H Conference held in Chevy Chase, MD at the 4-H center was one of the greatest experiences I have ever had. After leaving on a Saturday morning and quick flight down with the CT delegation our first encounter with other 4-Hers was a group of young women from Missouri on the shuttle bus to the Conference Center. With our free time that afternoon we visited the White House and a grove of Cherry Blossoms. That night after the opening gathering we met in our designated round tables. Throughout the following four days we met with our round table groups, did workshops, and other various team-building activities. Over the course of the week, I became very close with the members of my round table; I met 4-Hers from all over the country, Canada, and Puerto Rico. It was great to see what people had to say about the differences in other states and countries. In my round table we covered Energy Conservation, which really opened my eyes to all that can change in each state, country, and in the world. After the group and I became such good friends, we started to refer to it as a family because we all treated each other like it. The whole experience was a great time for me, the conference center was very accommodating and had very helpful personnel. The hardest part was leaving the friends and new people I had met at the end of the week.
The amount of new information and new personalities I learned and met were extremely eye opening. All the new info on 4-H and its history was absolutely mind blowing. Not only was the 4-H program astonishing but the speakers and performers that attended the conference were also lesson teachers. One for example, taught us that you will always have a bull looking at you and you’ll always overcome it. Another blessing of being in the capitol city is meeting with the senators’ aids and some of the representatives. It was good to see that they understand the importance of 4-H and they hope to continue to fund it. While 4-H has been a huge part of my life I can honestly say that this was the best 4-H experience I’ve had and thank you to everyone who made it possible. While I cannot write all that happened this summary has covered the basics and I hope this shows that this is a great program that should be continually funded.
Serving as chaperone for the Connecticut delegation was truly an honor. Observing the transformation of each of the teens was mesmerizing. The CT delegation met teens from across the nation, Puerto Rico, and Canada. After selecting the round table topics, the teens worked together for merely 14 hours to produce presentations to address important issues and present the information to federal agencies. Agencies to which the delegates presented to included; Peace Corp, Department of Health and Human Services, Department of Agriculture, U.S. Coast Guard, and Department of Environment Protection, among others. During their presentations, teens provided their perspective on the different topics, offering suggestions on how the deal with the issues. The experience was transforming as the agency representatives had great feedback, questions, and listened to each of their suggestions to put into practice within the agency.
In addition, Connecticut delegates visited their representatives. During our visit with Congressman Joe Courtney, one of our delegates received a military challenge coin. It was moment our teen will cherish forever.
The overall experience of National 4-H Conference 2015 has encouraged our teens, to become active leaders in our communities. Through adult and youth partnerships, teens have been prompted to get involved in the decision making process because their views can change the perspective of adults on topics that can impact youths lives.