4-H goes far beyond all those exhibits you see at the county fair. It always amazes me what you really can do in 4-H every time I get on the internet to look for information. With 4-H, the opportunities are unlimited. If you can imagine it, you can do it in 4-H. Here are some of things I have found.
National 4-H Conference is a chance for 4-H'ers to have meaningful involvement in program development. Through discussions and sharing of ideas, delegates develop recommendations on pre-selected topics. This conference is held in the spring at the National 4-H Center in Chevy Chase, Maryland. Each year from the state of Iowa four youth and two adults are chosen through an application and interview process held in March. Anyone in grades 9-11 may apply, but a 4-H'er may attend only once.
The National 4-H Congress is an opportunity for high school juniors and seniors to meet other 4-H'ers from across the U.S. Participants from across the country get together to experience the area they are visiting, develop leadership skills, learn about other people, and have a lot of fun! Recreational, social, and cultural activities add to the fun trip. Between 22 and 26 delegates are selected from Iowa. There is an application and interview process that is held in March.
The National Dairy Conference gives 4-H'ers the opportunity to meet youth with the same interests in the dairy industry. Delegates have the opportunity to see some of the best quality dairy animals the country has. Youth also participate in workshops, giving them an insight on the future of the dairy industry, and what it takes to promote the dairy industry. 4-H dairy members age 15 or older as of September 15 are encouraged to apply if they are interested in learning about the dairy industry in the U.S. and Canada. Applications are due to the State office by July 1 and consist of questions about the delegate's 4-H activities, dairy production knowledge and herd involvement. This conference takes place during the World Dairy Expo in Madison, Wisconsin held every fall in late September or early October.
Don't want to get that far away from home? How about the Iowa 4-H Youth Conference that is held every June? Over 1000 teenagers converge on the campus of Iowa State University for 3 days full of speakers, workshops, mixers, dances, a banquet, and community service activities. If you have completed 8th grade, you are eligible to attend. You don't even have to be in 4-H! You will get to experience campus life, and meet new people from across the state. You will be having fun while learning by doing, dancing the nights away, and serving the community. There are even opportunities for you to share your talents with the rest of the delegation through small group discussion, the Conference Chorus, and even a Talent Show. Watch this column for more information for the 2008 conference.
Want to be a veterinarian? Interested in learning more about animal science? Then you need to attend the Iowa Animal Science Round-up! You can make sausage, sample new foods, explore rumens, and meet new friends all while taking part in some of the Iowa Youth Conference activities such as speakers, a banquet and great dances.
Test your knowledge in judging, verbal communication, and production by participating in judging contests and dairy and horse quiz bowls. Learn decision-making and communication skills. Participate in your county during the summer for opportunities at state events. Top 4-H teams will represent Iowa at national contests.
College scholarships are available to graduating high school seniors and former 4-H'ers -- from $500 to full tuition! Scholarships range from Alumni scholarships to project-based scholarships.
Have you ever wanted to spend some time exploring the outdoors? If so, the Youth Wilderness Trips might be for you. You can experience the outdoors -- by food, canoe, or kayak- on an out-of-state wilderness trek. These trips are available to youth ages 14-18, and destinations include the Boundary Waters, Isle Royale, Rocky Mountains, Apostle Islands, and Alaska. Learn about minimum impact camping skills, teamwork, and the environment. You will be rewarded with beautiful scenery, wildlife sightings, and a real adventure. Not to mention all of the new friends that you will meet! 4-H supplies tents, backpacks, cooking gear, food, transportation, and adult leadership.
You can volunteer your time helping others n the 4-H Exhibit Building or with the 4-H livestock shows while taking part in the pure fun of the Iowa State Fair. Tasks include being an exhibit assistant, answering visitors' questions, helping coordinate communications projects, entering data for exhibits and livestock shows, and assisting at livestock shows and check-ins. In your free time, grab a corn dog and go down the big rug slide with the new friends you will meet. Take in a show at the free stage and then head to bed in the Youth Inn or Cultural Center after a fun and busy day. The whole volunteering experience allows you to meet new people, have fun, and also gives you the chance to help the state 4-H program fair activities. Applications are due June 1.
4-H also offers a wide variety of camps, including horse camp and outdoor adventures. These are offered at the Iowa 4-H Camp near Madrid. Camps are held throughout the year and are open to every age level. Paid counselor positions are also available during summer months for 17 year olds and up. Keep watching this column for more 4-H Camp information as it becomes available.
As you can see, opportunities are unlimited in 4-H! For more information, contact Brenda Medick, Cherokee County Extension Office (712)225-6196. Until next week . . .