Continuing a long tradition in Newton County 4-H, Will Holder represented Georgia at National 4-H Congress last week.
Today’s National 4-H Congress looks a little different than those decades ago in Chicago: It’s in Atlanta, and there are no national project competitions. Still, it’sl one of the greatest honors in Georgia 4-H.
"I’m definitely going to remember it because it was a great experience," said Holder.
A unior who is home-schooled, Holder mastered in the power and energy project last summer with a nuclear energy demonstration.
Thousands of Georgia high school students compete in project achievement each year at the district level. Barely over 200 earn trips to state competition, and fewer than 50 make it to National 4-H Congress.
Holder joined 800 youths from most states and Puerto Rico at the annual event, where the students learned about others’ 4-H programs, toured Atlanta sites,, and met speakers including Miss America.
Holder’s favorite speaker was Eugen Schoenfeld, a Holocaust survivor.
He traded pins, scored a shell necklace from the Hawaiian delegation, and even took classes in Irish dancing and ballroom dancing.
"I wasn’t very good at Irish dancing, but it was a lot of fun," he said.
Holder also learned how 4-H differs in other states.
"Most states focus mainly on agriculture. A lot of the (delegates) were surprised that Georgia and Tennessee focused so much on public speaking and demonstrations,’’ said Holder.
He said other delegates also learned a lot about Georgia.
"Everyone from basically everywhere is completely enamored with the Southern saying ‘bless your heart,’" he said.
"Most people had never been here before. So they were sort of fascinated with Chick-fil-A and eating chicken for breakfast, and sweet tea. Things we take for granted and consider normal are extremely weird up in the north."
National Congress is also a chance to meet fellow Georgia 4-H’ers one might not otherwise see throughout the year.
Holder posted to the other delegates after National 4-H Congress, "I just wanted to let you guys know that I had one of the best times of my entire life this past weekend. It was absolutely amazing. ... I didn’t really know most of you when National Congress started, but by the end, I felt as if I were a part of a giant, happy family."
If you are interested in competing in 4-H project achievement, deadlines are fast approaching. Youths ages 9 through sixth grade will compete with a 5- to 6-minute demonstration on Jan. 9.
Those in grades 7-12 should be finishing their portfolios before starting on longer demonstrations. Even someone brand new to 4-H can make the Jan. 3 deadline if he/she comes in this week.
Appointments are available all week. Students in grades 7-12 will also be in the 4-H office Dec. 23 to work on portfolios and projects.
To work on a portfolio, you need to know what project you are interested in and bring your calendar from the last year if possible.
Any community service, project work and leadership can go into a portfolio, not just 4-H work. Scouts, school, FFA, church and other organizations all lend great experience to a 4-H portfolio.
Youths are also encouraged to bring laptops if available, and/or a jump drive to save their work. On Dec. 23, 4-H’ers need health forms and lunch money.
There is no cost to attend the competitions, although donations are appreciated.
Project achievement costs our county program up to $3,000 in an average year, and thousands more are donated by statewide project donors to fund awards, State 4-H Congress and National 4-H Congress.
Local donations may be made to Newton County 4-H at 1113 Usher St., Suite 202, Covington, Ga. 30014.
Terri Kimble Fullerton is a Newton County 4-H Agent through UGA Cooperative Extension. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.