Aug. 26, 2013
LINCOLN, Neb. — Each year 300 to 400 4-H youth attend the National 4-H Conference in Washington, D.C. The conference gives a voice to youth who wish to change the world by allowing them to present their unique ideas to federal agencies.
Last April, Nebraska sent two delegates; Jeffrey Wallman from Gage County and Megan Stokebrand from Saline County.
Through various conference sessions and facilitated discussions, delegates learned and shared information on current trends and issues relevant to the 4-H program and youth from across the nation. These discussions helped build effective partnerships, created innovative 4-H programs, expanded the use of technology and impact community needs. Stemming from roundtable discussions, delegates then gave presentations to federal agencies to recommend innovative change.
Wallman, 18, will attend the University of Nebraska-Lincoln this fall. He joined a group of 17 youth to create a project called "Feeding the Growing World."
"We focused on the role of African women within sustainable agriculture," Wallman said.
Wallman's group proposed an idea that would allow youth to train African women how to better use their resources to produce more food and live healthier lives. The women would then spread the knowledge to other villages in a "ripple effect."
Wallman and his group presented his ideas to the National Institute of Food and Agriculture, a part of the USDA.
"I thought that was really cool because of the fact that it is not too often that kids my age get the opportunity to present in front of a federal organization," Wallman said.
Stokebrand, 18, and her group of 13 members proposed an idea for a project that would focus on helping military families adjust to new locations. Her group presented this idea to the United States Department of Agriculture at the Pentagon.
The project suggested that a youth panel consisting of members from national organizations like 4-H would meet with military groups to discuss how to best help military families.
The group discussed providing trained people at schools to welcome new military families, including counselors.
"It is really intimidating having to move all the time," Stokebrand said. "When military kids come into the community they will have people they can talk to."
Stokebrand's group suggested that 4-H members help military youth with 4-H projects. One idea included sharing livestock with them, as it may be difficult for military youth to obtain livestock for animal science projects.
Stokebrand enjoys promoting 4-H.
"I just continue to be someone who speaks out for 4H and all the great things it can do," she said.
To be selected to represent Nebraska at the National 4-H conference, students submitted a cover letter and resume that was reviewed by the State Awards Committee.
For more information, go to: http://4h.unl.edu/conference.Tracy Pracheil
Sandi Alswager Karstens
IANR News Service