4-H continues to Make the Best Better: Three Outstanding Missouri Youth attend National 4-H Conference

Rachel Grubbs, Scott County 4-H alumnus, during her trip to the National 4-H Conference

4-H continues to Make the Best Better:

Three Outstanding Missouri Youth attend National 4-H Conference

COLUMBIA, Mo. – Learn, practice, apply – the three objectives of the National 4-H Conference, an event that brings together youth, volunteer leaders, state and county Extension staff from across the United States, the U.S. Territories, and the Canadian Provinces.

More than 55,000 members strong, Missouri 4-H is an active, dynamic organization of young people who are learning, growing and preparing to be the leaders of today and tomorrow – making a real difference in their community, country and world. Recently three Missouri 4-H members did just that with their attendance at the 2019 National 4-H Conference in Chevy Chase, Maryland, April 6-11. While there, they participated in developing recommendations for the 4-H Youth Development Program. National 4-H Headquarters then shared those recommendations with the Secretary of Agriculture, National Extension Program Leaders, and others who determine 4-H programs.

Because few Missouri 4-H members are chosen to experience this event, it is a great honor to be one of the delegates. Scott County 4-H is proud to say that Rachel Grubbs of Sikeston was one of the three. Sage Eichenburch from Prairie Home (Cooper County 4-H) and Kayla Taylor from Leeton (Henry County 4-H) were also selected. Because Missouri chooses only three to attend National 4-H Conference, this event is considered the pinnacle of achievement for young people in civic engagement.

The trip included several firsts for Grubbs. Her first time flying, her first time as a delegate, and her first time visiting the nation’s capital, which made a conference tour of D.C. monuments and landmarks a major highlight.

While there, the 4-H delegates worked with other youth in roundtable groups to prepare briefings for Federal agencies on one of 15 different youth policy topics, ranging from agriculture, bullying, and entrepreneurship, to distracted driving, mental health, opioids, and renewable energy. Grubbs and Taylor joined in the distracted driving group, which made a group presentation in front of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration about programs to promote teen safety. Eichenburch contributed to the energy roundtable, in which youth made recommendations to the U.S. Department of Energy for exporting natural gas to emerging markets in the Middle East. Delegates not only learn while at the conference, but are also empowered to create positive social change in their communities and have the opportunity to practice and apply their skills in a real-world setting.

4-H falls under the umbrella of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) in the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) with additional support provided by National 4-H Council (a private, non-profit organization) and conducted through the land-grant university extension offices. An important event that youth witnessed was the renewal of the cooperative agreement between these agencies: the U.S. Department of Agriculture, National 4-H Council, and the Cooperative Extension System. This agreement makes 4-H possible in every county across the U.S.

Delegates wrapped up the conference by spending a day on Capitol Hill, visiting the offices of their U.S. Senators and Representatives, and sharing how 4-H has impacted their lives. The greatest benefits delegates said they have received from participation in 4-H include confidence, leadership skills, adult supporters, expanded networks, and college/career plans after high school.

“National 4-H Conference is the biggest thing I have ever been a part of. It was such a privilege to get to experience it, and I’m so grateful that my local 4-H staff encouraged me to put in the hard work and effort to apply. It was more than worth it.” said Grubbs.

The National 4-H Conference trip is made possible by an endowment gift from the Nellie Turner family to the Missouri 4-H Foundation. As a youth, Nellie attended the first National 4-H Conference—then called 4-H Club Camp on the National Mall—in 1927 where she took part in adopting the 4-H pledge and motto. Her family has since remained involved in national 4-H dedication ceremonies. For many years, the Turner family has helped three Missouri delegates attend the National 4-H Conference, with an annual gift of $3,000 for expenses.

4-H focuses on developing a wide range of positive youth development (PYD) methods and venues to deliver extensive subject matter to youth audiences. Our programs help Americans perceive our nation’s children and teens as one of our greatest natural resources. We develop ways to engage youth within their communities, schools, organizations, peer groups, and families in ways that develop and enhance their strengths.

4 H is delivered by Cooperative Extension—a community of more than 100 public universities across the nation that provides experiences where young people learn by doing. For more than 100 years, 4 H has welcomed young people of all beliefs and backgrounds, giving kids a voice to express who they are and how they make their lives and communities better. Through life-changing 4 H programs, nearly six million kids have taken on critical societal issues, such as addressing community health inequities, engaging in civil discourse, and advocating for equity and inclusion for all. The division works through federal, state, local, and non-profit partnerships to help youth foster these positive relationships and build leadership strengths. We seek to develop programs that support youth to reach their full potential. If you are interested in learning more about 4-H in your area please visit http://4h.missouri.edu or call your local Extension office.