On June 16-19, more than 500 teens, volunteers, and Virginia Cooperative Extension agents, including four 4-H members from Westmoreland County, gathered on Virginia Tech’s Blacksburg campus for the 94th annual State 4-H Congress. This year’s theme “Celebrating the Past, Making it Last,” drew on the history of 4-H and demonstrated the power of 4-H to assist teens in developing leadership, citizenship, and life skills through hands-on educational programs. Westmoreland County delegates included: Caitlin Drummond, Katie Allen, JaCinta Ball and Keith Feller.
From left, front row- Camden Cooke of Northumberland, Katie Allen of Westmoreland. Second row- Keith Feller of Westmoreland, Jacinta Ball of Westmoreland, and 4-H extension agent Wendy Herdman. Third row- Branden Benza of Lancaster, Caitlin Drummond of Westmoreland, and 4-H extension agent Tara Brent. Back row- 4-H adult volunteer Matt Brent of Northumberland and Kalin Benza of Lancaster.
Special this year, the State 4-H Congress hosted a Centennial Celebration luncheon to honor the 100-year anniversary of Cooperative Extension. Delegates were able to deepen their understanding of 4-H and Extension by viewing displays, a slideshow, and interviews of people whose lives have been impacted by 4-H. Special guest speakers, as well as 4-H alumni, retirees, and former employees, joined the luncheon.
Mike Martin, Extension 4-H specialist said this year was exciting because they incorporated the centennial celebration. Although 4-H is more than 100 years old, they were able to celebrate 100 years of Extension, which has been celebrated nationally. “4-H is the youth development organization of Cooperative Extension and has served an important role in the history of Extension.”
During the Congress, 4-H delegates participated in the Great Summer Showcase — a series of fun and innovative educational workshops taught by Virginia Tech faculty members covering topics such as animal science, communications and expressive arts, healthy living, environmental education, technology, engineering, and math. Participants participated in hands-on workshops, including fashion merchandizing and horticulture. One workshop allowed 4-H’ers to explore art and computer graphics while working at the DREAMS Lab on campus, which houses a 3-D printing station. The workshops not only introduced the students to interesting subjects, they also engendered a love of learning.
Westmoreland Delegate Katie Allen participated in 4-H Congress for the first time this year and said her favorite part was the DNA Extraction Class. She hopes to attend again next year.