County students participate in 4-H conference
Nearly 600 young people descended on State College earlier this year for the Pennsylvania 4-H State Leadership Conference or the Junior Leadership Conference.
Five youth from Lehigh County participated including Emily Mittl of Kempton, Liana Panik of Emmaus, Sophia Vargas of Germansville, Ian Royer of Schnecksville, and Kaytlin Dietrich of Kempton.
The weekend was an opportunity for 4-H’ers to come together for leadership training, networking, and learning experiences.
The weekend, themed “LAUNCH: Leaders All Unite For Necessary Change to Happen,” kicked off with welcome addresses by the Director of PA 4-H Dr. Joshua Rice, PA Secretary of Agriculture Russell Redding, State Dairy Princess Yvonne Longenecker and Alternate Dairy Princess Gretchen Little.
Dauphin County 4-H alumnus Tyler Shaw gave the opening keynote address.
Royer led a virtual experience as part of the opening program.
Saturday was a full day of leadership workshops for the 13- to 18-year-old attendees of the leadership conference.
Those workshops included topics such as goal setting, interview skills, conflict resolution, parliamentary procedure, stress management, and more.
While the older teens were attending these workshops, the Junior Conference convened for the 10- to 13-year-olds.
This was a one-day version of the larger conference to give younger members a small glimpse into what they can expect to see when they are older.
Workshops such as public speaking, dress for success, how to be a club officer, and bullying prevention were presented to this very enthusiastic group of budding 4-H’ers.
To accompany the space theme of the conference, the juniors took part in a question-and-answer session with Slade Peters, a test engineer for NASA.
Appiah Boateng, director of 4-H Ghana, spoke about the program in his country and how inspired he was to witness this large leadership event.
Saturday keynote speaker Matt Bellace entertained the older teens with his comedy and message about finding natural highs — those traits that make young people feel empowered to make positive change in their lives and communities.
The event concluded on that Sunday with an ode to 4-H service.
Brandon Rumbaugh, a Marine and Pennsylvania native who lost both legs in an IED explosion while deployed, shared his story with the audience.
His story exemplified leadership, service, and strength to take what life puts in your way.
Delegates were also recognized on Sunday for shoes they had collected for the 4-H Statewide Service Project, Shoebox Recycling.
The Penn State Collegiate 4-H Club also addressed and thanked the attendees for the donations they provided to benefit 4-H families impacted by Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico.
Collegiate 4-H member, Alondra Valentin, who is from Puerto Rico, talked about the conditions her family, friends, and neighbors are still facing months after the storm.
At least 10 large boxes of donations from Pennsylvania 4-H’ers, including hygiene, food, and clothing items, along with letters and drawings prepared by the Junior conferences attendees, will be delivered to the 4-H headquarters in Puerto Rico.
The Pennsylvania 4-H State Council — a premier group of young people selected from around the state to be the official spokesmen and spokeswomen for the Pennsylvania 4-H program — in conjunction with the Pennsylvania 4-H State Office, coordinated the weekend event. Administered in Pennsylvania by Penn State Extension, 4-H is a community of more than 6 million young people across America who are learning leadership, citizenship and life skills.
Information about 4-H can be found at extension.psu.edu/4-H.