Leadership opportunities exist for 4-Hers

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Building skills that last a lifetime

By Misty Wilmoth

Our young people are the future leaders and decision makers of the nation. 4-H offers youth a prime opportunity to explore and engage in leadership roles. By participating in a leadership role in organizations like 4-H, young people have the opportunity to develop critical thinking, communication and life skills that will aid them in making crucial future decisions.

Many leadership experiences are geared toward older youth, but younger youth also have the opportunity to become leaders early in their 4-H career.

Two of the most prestigious leadership roles include becoming a delegate to either the National 4-H Conference in Washington, D.C., or the National 4-H Congress in Atlanta. At the National Teen 4-H Conference, youth join extension professionals and adult volunteer leaders to discuss ways 4-H can better serve young people on local and national levels. Recommendations from the conference are shared with the Secretary of Agriculture, national extension leaders and those involved with 4-H programming. Four delegates from Kentucky are selected every year. During the National 4-H Congress, delegates learn about cultural diversity and serving others and their communities.

Many leadership opportunities also exist at the state level including becoming a member of the State 4-H Teen Council or a State 4-H Officer. State 4-H Teen Council is comprised of youth from across the state.  These young people learn about leadership and communication as they serve as liaisons between local, district and state 4-H programs. State 4-H officers serve as ambassadors for Kentucky 4-H.

4-H members elect state officers each June during State Teen Conference and those officers serve until the end of the next year’s conference. 4-H officers serve in leadership roles in State 4-H Teen Council, and past members often are invited to serve as advisers to the following year’s council and officers.

Teens interested in leadership opportunities in 4-H also can attend the 4-H Issues Conference and the State 4-H Teen Conference. At the issues conference, young people from across the state meet to discuss issues affecting young people and their communities. Youth discuss ways in which they can have a positive impact on community issues and develop plans that they will implement when they return home. Young people who attend the 4-H Teen Conference can participate in a wide range of activities designed to help improve their leadership and communication abilities including workshops, tracks, tours, college visits and issues seminars.

4-H has many clubs and groups in which young people can assume leadership roles. Youth can get their first taste of leadership roles beginning as a junior 4-H member by becoming an officer of a county 4-H club or attending 4-H Summit. Summit is a three-day, two-night event where sixth through eighth graders get to meet their peers from across the state as well as State 4-H Teen Council members. During Summit, participants learn about leadership opportunities that are available to them when they become senior 4-Hers.

4-H has many leadership opportunities available for youth.

For more information on how you can get involved with these and other 4-H activities, contact the LaRue County Cooperative Extension Service at 358-3401 or visit the Web site at ces.ca.uky. edu/larue/index.php