National 4-H Congress – An Experience to Remember! -by Mikaileigh Baker, Tioga County
Posted: December 11, 2012
Standing in front of the National 4-H Congress sign before the International Dinner and Dance are from L to R: AnneMarie Hutchinson, Venango County; Mikaileigh Baker, Tioga County; Emily Wingert, Franklin County
I started out my adventure well before I arrived in Atlanta. I flew by myself and this would only be my second time flying. Let me just say that was nerve wracking! I arrived in Atlanta and basically until dinner and state photos we got acquainted with the rest of the delegation. There were around 800 other 4-H’ers from 43 states and 1 territory which was amazing to meet the many different people and learn about their cultures and what their states and 4-H programs are like. We also had a pin exchange with the other states which is pretty neat because we could get know what all they had in their states.
That night, Dan Thurman spoke and he keeps everyone’s attention very well and even has audience involvement which was fun! We had state meetings every night to give us information about the next day. For example, where we needed to be when, what to wear, and what was going on.
A continental breakfast is not what you expect it to be. It consists of chicken on a biscuit sandwich, honeybun, cereal, and a fruit. The chicken on a biscuit is very good! On Saturday, we had the flag ceremony, which is when the flag bearers selected from each delegation bring in the flags of each of the states in order that they became part of the United States. We did the American pledge, 4-H pledge in English and Spanish and were entertained every morning with various forms of talent from delegates attending Congress.
We also had workshops on this day. I did ‘GTL: Give, Talk, Learn: The Power of Service Learning’. This workshop was taught by Justin Crowe who is from Tennessee. He is one of the most personable and funniest guys you’ll meet. A couple of years ago he brought the Tennessee county council to Pennsylvania for our State Leadership Conference in State College
In the afternoon I then had ‘Speed Meeting’ which was very interesting because as you can suspect by its name it’s kind of like speed dating. I met some very interesting people from all over the country and because of this it was easier meeting more people from the rest of the delegations, also. Then after that I did a team building workshop which gave me new and interesting ideas that I can use in the future.
That night was very exciting! It was International Night, the Hawaiian delegation put beads around my neck as I walked through the door. This night is basically a dinner dance with different countries represented by a different food or drink. And for those that like arcades, they had an arcade there.
Sunday was a very easy going day. We had an inspirational ceremony which consisted of a speaker. His name was Dr. Eugene Schoenfeld. He spoke on his experience of being in the Holocaust at the ages of 18 & 19 and how it coincides with the four H’s. The afternoon consisted of two workshops and I did Social Media which was very interesting! Herby Agnew was the guy doing it and he is funny and easy going. The workshop was about the different websites and how they can be used and what they are used for. I also did Dancing with the Stars where I learned how to do the basics of the Salsa. That night we went to the Atlanta History Center for an evening of culture, toured the center, went to a comedian and watched African dancing.
Monday was a big and busy day. In the morning we had our service projects. My service project was at Chastain Park, one of the largest parks in Atlanta. We were then split into two smaller groups and my half went to this pretty big area where it was covered in leaves. We raked all the leaves and put them by the side of the road which made a huge pile of leaves! We did this because there is a kid’s area right there and they wanted to expand and make it bigger and better but in order to do that they needed the leaves gone.
In the afternoon we then went on our tours that we chose. I went to the Georgia Aquarium. This is considered one of the largest aquariums in the world. When going through the aquarium I saw so many different kinds of animals I had never even heard of before. For example, a Laced Moray Eel which is just a spotted eel, and an Elephantnose Fish which by its name has basically an elephant nose. I also got to touch a stingray which was an interesting experience. It was very slimy. Some of the exhibits had passageways that took us right inside of the exhibit through tubing which was a different way of seeing the exhibit.
We then had Congress Gala and dance that night, which was very fancy. Our speaker for the night was Miss America 2012, Laura Kaeppeler. Every year they invite Miss America to speak. She had a lot to say and was a very good speaker. After she spoke we had a surprise visitor. Santa Claus visited us!
On our last day we had the closing ceremony and the speaker, Dan Clark, spoke about how the 4-H’s can go with our ever day lives. This event wasn’t all structured all the time. We had free time in between things. There was a 4-H ‘mall’ and there were contests. Some contests included: cleanest room -- if you and your roommates had the cleanest room throughout the whole time being there you got $100 and the other contest was a photo challenge. They chose three pictures each day and numbers from a wristband we got at the ‘mall’ and you could get an item up to $7 free or get $7 off of another item at the ‘mall’. Throughout the event we also got a bunch of little free goodies including a bag from Tractor Supply with items in it, a state polo, and a community service t- shirt.
This experience overall was very rewarding in more ways than one. It was amazing to meet so many people from all over the country and making those connections with people. I learned so much about what 4-H really is and what it really is about. It’s not just about the projects it’s about the Head, Heart, Hands, and Health. And with this event you will find out what I am talking about.
The National 4-H Congress has a Facebook page, Twitter, and website. Visit the website at www.national4-hcongress.com to see more information from this year’s event.