Eighteen Utah State University Extension 4-H youth recently attended National 4-H Congress training in Atlanta, Georgia. National Congress recognizes top 4-H youth throughout the country, and approximately 1,000 youth were in attendance this year. Utah 4-H youth received leadership training and will later become the trainers as they share their knowledge with Utah 4-H youth at teen leadership training and other events during the year.
In past years, only six 4-Hers were able to attend National 4-H Congress, but because of a Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) grant through the Division of Workforce Services awarded to USU Extension, six youth were selected through a rigorous application and interview process, and all eight state ambassadors and four state 4-H officers also attended.
"The three-year grant increases the number of 4-H events we can sponsor statewide and also allows more youth to attend trainings like National 4-H Congress,” said Kevin Kesler, USU Extension 4-H director. “The training they receive corresponds well with grant requirements to involve more Utah youth in 4-H leadership during teen years to help reduce the risk of poor behavior.”
In 2014, 505 youth and 121 adults throughout the state participated in 4-H state leadership events including Teen Winter Retreat, Teen Leadership Training, Leadermete, I4-H, regional mission mandate trainings and state contests. Because of the TANF grant, it is anticipated that 775 youth and 220 adults will be able to participate in these programs in 2015.
The grant also provides two new regional youth summits. County 4-H teen councils and ambassadors will be invited to attend either the Northern or Southern Utah Regional 4-H Summit where they will learn content-specific programs and skills to teach in their counties. Workshops at the summit will be planned, implemented and facilitated by the Utah 4-H state officers who will act as youth 4-H specialists for the state in the areas of science, healthy living and citizenship.
In addition, the grant allows Utah 4-H ambassadors and officers to attend National 4-H Conference in April where they will meet with youth across the nation to discuss teen-related legislative issues and present to various organizations in Washington, D.C. They will then share their knowledge and train other 4-H youth at events around the state, including facilitating discussions and voting on legislative issues with youth statewide at the USU Extension 4-H Mock Legislature in April at the Utah State Capitol.
According to Josh Dallin, USU Extension state 4-H program coordinator and principal investigator for the grant, youth are more effective leaders with youth than adults are.
“Youth will excite, educate and invite, reaching their peers in ways adults cannot,” he said. “One of the many great things about this grant is that it provides the youth with national exposure to cutting edge programs in 4-H and teaches them leadership skills along with the ability to promote and teach.”