Thirty-seven Arkansas 4-H members are back from National 4-H Congress at Atlanta, where they were recognized for their achievements and continued learning about leadership, citizenship, global awareness and inclusion.
The National 4-H Congress is the premier leadership event for senior 4-H members, and all attendees had winning project record books at the state level, a requirement to attend. This year's event was all the more special because it was the 100th National 4-H Congress.
"We were thrilled to take a busload of Arkansas 4-H'ers to Atlanta, on our first face-to-face 4-H national event in nearly two years," said Angie Freel, interim associate department head for Arkansas 4-H. "Our 37 4-H members joined 800 other 4-H'ers from across the country and participated in service-learning projects, international education, and workshops led by national leaders. It's a grand tradition in Arkansas to attend Congress, and we look forward to attending many more."
The group left from the Little Rock state office of the Cooperative Extension Service, part of the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture. Last year's trip was canceled due to the covid-19 pandemic.
"This has been one of the best trips of my life," said Sarah Barber, a 4-H member from Independence County. "I met people from all over the country, and now I can say I have friends in other states."
This year's conference theme -- "A Century of Empowering Youth" -- focused on leadership, citizenship, global awareness and inclusion.
The group, made up of high school students and a few college freshmen, attended numerous educational workshops, service-learning events and performed community service at Atlanta, said Arkansas 4-H events coordinator Priscella Thomas-Scott, who organized the trip.
Thomas-Scott accompanied the youth, along with Dave Freeze, Green County extension agent; Jessica Street, Benton County extension agent; and Tami Barer, a 4-H volunteer from Independence County.
Attendees heard nationally known speakers, including Zippy Duvall, president of the American Farm Bureau, and Carrie Castille, director of the U.S. Department of Agriculture National Institute of Food and Agriculture.
"It was an incredible opportunity to network with my fellow 4-Hers from across the country," Abby Frizzell of Johnson County said. "While at Congress there was a motivational speaker who talked about climbing your mountain, and it inspired me to choose a mountain that I want to climb -- working toward the Arkansas Governor's Award."
The Arkansas Governor's Award is the highest award an Arkansas 4-H member can receive. It is awarded each year at the Arkansas 4-H State O-Rama.
The Arkansas 4-H Foundation funded the trip. 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, Hall of College Football Fame and other attractions.
Cross County 4-H member Carlee Nguyen said a workshop called "Expanding the Horizons" made her think more about her community and her place in it.
"It opened my eyes to the fact that though we may be very different, we should work together to get to the same goal," she said.
Congratulations to the following delegates:
Arkansas County -- Rob Phillips and Magon James
Benton County -- Tayte Christensen, Emma Davis, Brandt Bowen, Karlie Lindsay, Jessica Hope, Wyatt Jackson and Conner LaBrecque
Clark County -- James Colby Daniell and Xander Adams
Columbia County -- Mallie Dooly
Conway County -- Kristin Lehmann
Cross County -- Carlee Nguyen
Faulkner County -- Victoria Puckett and W. Jonah-Leo Smith
Green County -- Jasa Reed and Wesley Watkins
Howard County -- Alexander Trombley
Independence County -- Sarah Barber
Johnson County -- Abby Frizzell
Madison County -- Aaron Mahan and Sarah Mahan
Montgomery County -- Baylie Clay
Pope County -- Gracey Killins, Sidnye Nealy and Spencer Warren
Sebastian County -- Jenna Frederick, Kimber Campbell and Lindsey Garretson
Washington County -- Tarik Biswell, Emma Gardner and Janna Morse
White County -- Annabelle Ferren, Delaney White, Aspen White and Will Pruitt.
To learn more about 4-H and other extension programs in Arkansas, contact a local Cooperative Extension Service agent or visit www.uaex.uada.edu. Follow us on Twitter and Instagram at @AR_Extension.
The University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture offers all its Extension and Research programs and services without discrimination.
-- Tracy Courage is with the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture.