National 4-H Congress

first_img“We haven’t abandoned our agricultural roots,” Stewart said. “We’ve expanded theaudience we serve.” “We want them to see the new South. This is a progressive region with the best ourcountry has to offer in climate, industry and agriculture,” she said. “We have shown acooperation of mutual respect between agriculture and business. And that link is clearin Atlanta. National 4-H Congress brings together 4-H’ers from across the nation and U.S.territories. The teens will discuss challenges they will face in the future and will searchfor solutions. National Congress also has changed to mirror the changing face of 4-H. One big part of the learning experience of the event is community service. “Experiential learning works whether you’re raising a steer in Hahira or a backyardgarden in Decatur,” Stewart said. “We’ve found urban and suburban applications foragriculture. And we’ve established 4-H as the premiere organization teachingleadership and citizenship to America’s youth.” “What better place to teach service and diversity than ‘Atlanta: The City Too Busy toHate’?” Stewart said. “That’s a vital message these young people need to take home.” The Congress convenes the day after Thanksgiving each year. It lasts for four days. Using the lessons of the past 80 years, National 4-H Congress combines its youngmembers’ leadership, citizenship and technological skills. And it puts them to work. “This program will give us an opportunity to unite young people from a multiculturalbase to network, discuss youth issues and establish relationships they will build on forthe rest of their lives,” Stewart said. “Atlanta will be a part of that.” “Plus, Atlanta offers gracious living you can’t get any other place in the world,” shesaid. “National 4-H Council determined that (as it was), it could no longer be funded,”Stewart said. “After National Council abandoned sponsorship, states picked it up andredefined the mission as an educational experience. They strengthened the programfrom just a recognition event.” “National 4-H Congress began as a recognition program for outstanding performance inproject areas,” said Susan Stewart, who coordinates the event. 4-H reaches city and suburban kids in the same way it reached rural students at the turnof the century. Georgia’s 4-H reputation helped land National Congress in Atlanta. “It still is,” said Stewart, a UGA 4-H specialist. “But it has expanded to be aneducational experience that exceeds the scope of what any one state could offer.” Stewart hopes the students won’t leave without a good dose of Southern hospitality. The big event almost ended in 1994. “We now hope National 4-H Congress will help us spotlight Georgia’s outstandingprogram,” Ryles said. “We hope it will introduce 4-H to a new generation ofGeorgians.” The Congress will bring more than 1,200 young people to the city each year. It won’t be another Olympics. It will be a big deal, however, to thousands of youngAmericans. For four years starting in 1998, Atlanta will be the host city for theNational 4-H Congress. A site selection committee made the announcement this week. With more than 5.5 million members (more than 170,000 in Georgia), 4-H reaches anever-changing population. It now includes 1 million city dwellers and more than 2million suburbanites. Only a little more than 700,000 live on farms. About 24 percentare minorities. “National 4-H Congress is the premiere event for 4-H across our country,” said BoRyles, state 4-H leader with the University of Georgia Extension Service. “Citiesnationwide bid for the Congress. We’re thrilled the committee chose Atlanta.”last_img

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