ND 4-H Members Learn and Share at National 4-H Conference
The delegates were Maria Brien of Rolla, Katherine Kempel of Casselton, Victoria Christensen of Courtenay and Kaitlyn Joerger of Mayville. North Dakota 4-H Foundation board president Andy Staloch and his wife Shauna from Williston chaperoned the team.
The conference focused on learning for the 4-H delegates from across the country, but also practicing what they learned through hands-on educational activities and applying the knowledge through real-world experiences in which they developed leadership skills.
“My roundtable group learned about the opioid epidemic and how it affects youth all across America,” Brien said. “The information I learned about opioids will be good to share with my community. We went to the Health and Human Services department and did a presentation on how the opioid epidemic affects and looks in our communities. Following the presentation, we answered questions and visited with the agency staff.”
Christenson’s roundtable group learned about civility and civic engagement then focused on trauma-informed care in their presentation to Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration staff. Joerger’s group shared with Health Resources and Services Administration staff how youth can move from being a bystander to an upstander in bullying situations and how the resources available for youth on bullying can be improved. Kempel’s group told the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry how 4-H and agriculture have shaped their lives.
Kempel said, “Participating in the roundtable taught me the value of collaboration to work toward a common goal. For example, when we began to work on our presentation, we couldn’t agree on the most effective way to present our information. By taking the time to listen to reasoning of various points of view, my group was able to create a cohesive presentation. Without this skill, we wouldn’t have been able to get past the brainstorming step of our presentation. Collaboration and discussion are just two of the skills that I have brought back from the conference.”
Joerger said, “Through the roundtable, I was able to learn how to communicate effectively and become a better leader, even within a room full of leaders. I also learned how to think quickly and respond professionally to questions.”
“During our visit to Capitol Hill, we met with Rep. Kelly Armstrong, Sen. John Hoeven and a staffer from Sen. Kevin Cramer’s office,” Kempel said. “These informative meetings showed me that the issues we see every day are important to people as far away as Capitol Hill. For example, when we brought up the problem of vaping and underage drinking, Rep. Armstrong elaborated on our point and took into consideration our stance on the topic. Our views and concerns were taken seriously. Overall, our visit to Capitol Hill proved to me that even as a youth I can make a difference in my government.”
The youth also had the opportunity to tour monuments by night and visit museums on the national mall.
“The National 4-H Conference was a great experience where I was able to learn about 4-H communities all around the U.S. as well as go to our nation’s capital for the first time,” Brien said. “I made friends from different states, including Puerto Rico, and participated in roundtable discussion groups with these other 4-H’ers, gaining from their different perspectives.”
The North Dakota 4-H Foundation sponsored this educational opportunity.
Rachelle Vettern, associate professor and leadership-volunteer development specialist in the NDSU Center for 4-H Youth Development, encourages other 4-H’ers to set the goal to apply to be a delegate to National 4-H Conference.
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