Pennsylvania 4-H'ers attend prestigious National 4-H Congress

Posted: January 21, 2014

Thirty-four Pennsylvania 4-H members attended the 2013 National 4-H Congress, held Nov. 29-Dec. 3 in Atlanta, Ga. Each year, 4-H members from across the United States and its territories come together to participate in the event, which includes educational, service-learning and recreational opportunities. Forty-five states and Puerto Rico were represented in Atlanta, with approximately 735 delegates in attendance. National 4-H Congress has been a 4-H tradition for more than 90 years.

Friday night opened with the theme, Passport to Excellence: Ride to Opportunity. The guest speaker, Eric Chester, focused on gauging one’s life as a whole, instead of examining every single minute and year. Stretching a tape measure 80 feet to represent a person’s “life,” he demonstrated how minuscule four years of high school really is and the importance of looking forward to future possibilities.
After the opening assembly, delegates participated in the Get Acquainted assembly. The delegates bring pins representing their state or territory and get acquainted by exchanging their pins and meeting the other delegates. This gives delegates the opportunity to meet new friends and foster friendships that last long after Congress.

Saturday morning began with a message from the Morris family. The father serves in the military, and each family member spoke about the friendships, experiences and support they received from being in 4-H. In particular, they expressed appreciation for the community that 4-H participation provided them when their father and husband was deployed.

The day continued with the theme, Passport to Excellence: Ticket to Learning, which included educational workshops about conflict resolution and bullying prevention, the power of service learning, robotics, healthy gourmet, agri-science and leadership. That evening delegates were treated to an international dinner and dance, where they experienced different cultures by sampling food from countries such as Germany, Canada, China, England, France and Italy.
Passport to Excellence: Capture the Culture was the theme for Sunday and included a moving and emotional presentation by Holocaust survivor, Dr. Eugen Schoenfeld, professor emeritus, Georgia State University, Georgia Commission on the Holocaust. Dr. Schoenfeld shared his personal experiences as a young Jewish boy who was captured and forced to work in a concentration camp. That evening delegates enjoyed an evening of culture at the Atlanta History Center that consisted of music, dance, comedy and various displays throughout the museum.
On Monday morning, delegates took part in the Passport to Excellence: First Class Service community-service event. Participants were assigned to various projects around Atlanta, such as helping to organize books to be sent to recipients in Africa, assisting in classrooms in local schools, and cleaning up parks and gardens.
In the afternoon, delegates participated in various tours throughout Atlanta, visiting sites such as the Georgia Aquarium, Atlanta Zoo and The World of Coca Cola. The day ended with the Congress Gala, which consisted of a formal dinner, a dance and an appearance from Miss America 2014, Jenna Martin, who posed for photos with some Pennsylvania delegates.

The theme of Tuesday's final day was Passport to Excellence: Return with Results, which featured an address by Dan Clark, CEO, author, professor, songwriter/recording artist, and award-winning athlete. Clark, who is a primary contributing author to the Chicken Soup for the Soul series and author of “Puppies for Sale,” focused on being a positive and contributing member of society, tying his message to the Head, Heart, Hands, Health mission of 4-H.

In related news, Pennsylvania 4-H has announced that Critter Fink, 4-H member in Venango County, has been chosen to serve on the 2014 National 4-H Congress Design Team. The team consists of the nation’s most outstanding 4-H members, 4-H volunteers and Extension staff. The Design Team is responsible for planning and organizing this national event. Fink is the third Pennsylvania 4-H’er chosen to serve on this prestigious team in the last four years.

National 4-H Congress is considered to be the capstone event of a member’s 4-H experience. It is a premier program that 4-H’ers can attend only once.
For more information about this year’s Congress, go to


Row 1 (seated): Megan Stoermer, Adams County; Laura Dietrich, Berks County; Rebecca Foulke, Dauphin County; Julia Guerrein, Erie County;  Casondra Bennet Bradford County; Sarah Smith, Lawrence County; Casey Baker, Lawrence County; Carrie Rugh, Clarion County; Amy Adelman, Venango County; Ivy Ensminger, York County

Row 2: Lori Knecht, Chaperone; Abby Gillis, Westmoreland County; Lindsey Zeigler, York County; Jenna Sattazahn, Berks County; Kayla Brown, Bradford County; Kayla Buker, Cumberland County; Nicole Fox, Northampton County; Nichol Glover, Washington County; Elizabeth Wiltshire, Bucks County; Miriam Munoz, Lehigh County;  Alex Stepnoski, Chaperone

Row 3: Christopher Fink, Venango County; Abigail Zyhowski, Indiana County; Lauren Androstic, Westmoreland County; Megan DelBianco, Bucks County; T.J. Vercek, Washington County; Cheryl Chuba, Dauphin County;  Brendin Freeman, Schuylkill County; Julie Worst, Butler County; Amy Gregor, State Coordinator

Row 4: Mike Hunter, Chaperone; Flynn Keller, Schuylkill County; Hunter Ford, Crawford County; Christopher VanBlargan, Northampton County; John Hess, Erie County; Lillie Geiger, Lehigh County; Jesse Isenberg, Indiana County;  Nathan Repetz, Cumberland County; Lori Richardson, Chaperone