Attending the weeklong National 4-H Conference in Washington, D.C., was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for Gretchen Brummond of Park River.
She was one of four North Dakota 4-H’ers selected to participate in the recent conference. The others were Mara Bornemann of Center, Teddy Mayer of Mott and Toby Zikmund of Pisek.
The conference is an event in which more than 260 youth explore current issues affecting youth and the role 4-H can play in addressing those issues. Delegates participated in roundtable groups who researched issues such as teen health, agriculture and juveniles. The groups developed presentations on their findings and then shared the findings with key decision makers at various federal agencies throughout the Washington, D.C., area.
“I was able to meet and connect with 4-H’ers from all across the country, and even Canada and Puerto Rico,” Brummond says. “We were involved in roundtable discussions (texting and driving, for example) and were able to present them to different agencies (Department of Transportation, for example).
“This trip made me step out of my comfort zone and present my roundtable topic to prestigious adults,” she adds.
“It was very powerful to see that I could make an impact on a national level by presenting to the Senate Committee on Agriculture,” Zikmund says. “The conference reinforced the idea that it’s possible to be a leader no matter where you are.”
For Bornemann, the conference was a reminder of how important youth are to communities.
“Attending a national conference such as this was surely a great opportunity, but it was certainly no invitation to stop being an impactful, positive influence on a local or state level,” she says. “After having a short federal briefing at the U.S. Department of Justice with my roundtable group, I felt exhilarated and eager to do something within my own community, specifically with my local police department and school.
“I only hope that the passion I brought home from this conference to apply ‘my hands to larger service’ can be relayed onto others so that they may look to the four H’s of 4-H and do something within their own communities,” she notes.
The conference was an eye-opening experience for Mayer.
“During the National 4-H Conference, I learned how 4-H works as a national organization, which expanded my mind on the true impact of 4-H,” he says.
Meagan Scott, a 4-H youth development specialist in North Dakota State University’s Center for 4-H Youth Development, chaperoned the North Dakota delegates.
“Interacting with these exceptional 4-H youth was a privilege,” she says. “Watching the outstanding young leaders come together and in a matter of only two days, put together such inspiring, creative and thought-provoking presentations in their roundtable groups was definitely impressive.
“These four youth are leaders both in their communities and across the state,” she adds. “I look forward to seeing the great things that they continue to do.”
Brummond hopes other 4-H’ers take advantage of attending the National 4-H Conference.
“I encourage all 4-H’ers to apply for this, for it has definitely impacted my leadership abilities for the better,” she says.
Applications to serve as a 2019 delegate are due to the North Dakota State University Extension Center for 4-H Youth Development by Aug. 1. For more information, contact Rachelle Vettern, an NDSU Extension leadership and volunteer development specialist, at 701-231-7541 or firstname.lastname@example.org. 4-H is a program of NDSU Extension.
The North Dakota 4-H Foundation sponsored this educational opportunity.