Extension and Ag Research News


N.D. Youth Help Draft National 4-H Policy

Three North Dakota 4-H members attend this year’s National 4-H Conference.

Three North Dakota 4-H’ers were among more than 350 youth and adults who attended the 78th National 4-H Conference in Washington, D.C., this spring.

Kendra Krueger of Casselton, Shelly Pherson of Rutland and Megan Ternquist of Michigan joined other conference delegates in sharing ideas and forming recommendations to guide the future of 4-H youth development programs nationally and in their communities.

“Green Aid: Acquire, Inform and Deliver” was the theme of this year’s conference. Delegates focused on how the 4-H Youth Development Program can aid in creating socially significant and relevant programming to increase environmental awareness in 4-H clubs and communities, as well as throughout the nation and around the world.

Through focus groups, citizenship excursions, workshops, roundtable discussions and a town hall meeting, the delegates crafted the following recommendations:

  • Strive for a more nationally coherent program that reflects local needs and priorities. This includes reaching out to youth typically underserved by 4-H, such as those living in urban areas.
  • Develop national opportunities to engage older members and keep them involved in 4-H.
  • Encourage 4-H to make greater use of communication to engage members and share program materials and ideas.
  • Do a better job of telling the story of 4-H at all levels through national promotions and publicity.
  • Invest and allocate funds to develop new project areas, deliver the latest technologies to youth at the local level and increase state-level funding that is critical to 4-H.

“In our groups, we talked mainly about what it means to be a citizen and how we, as 4-H’ers, are responsible for setting a good example in our club, community, country and our world,” Pherson said. “The slogan that our roundtable liked most was, ‘Think globally, act locally.’ ”

Cathann Kress, national 4-H director, presented the recommendations to U.S. Agriculture Secretary Ed Schafer and other 4-H and U.S. Department of Agriculture officials. Schafer praised the delegates as 4-H’s think tank and promised he would give their recommendations careful consideration.

He added that although many 4-H’ers live on farms, a growing number come from urban and suburban areas. He is concerned that with fewer farms, young people, even some in 4-H, don’t have knowledge and understanding of American agriculture. He asked the delegates, as young leaders, to spread awareness of how everyone is connected to the land, whether they are buying a loaf of bread, putting on a cotton shirt or drinking a glass of orange juice.

The delegates also had a chance to do some touring while they were in Washington, D.C.

“Some of the things that I enjoyed most were getting a personal tour of the Capitol building, which is an amazing history lesson all in itself; touring Arlington (National Cemetery), which was a huge eye-opener of the direct effects of war and what our country has gone through; and of course, meeting with the senators on Capitol Hill Day,” Pherson said.

“Another thing I took away from this trip was a culture lesson, a big culture lesson,” she said. “I met people from Puerto Rico to Canada and it was amazing how people can be so different. But the cool thing was, no matter who you were talking to, you know you had at least one thing in common – 4-H.”

The National 4-H Conference is an excellent leadership development opportunity for North Dakota’s older 4-H youth, according to Rachelle Vettern, leadership and volunteer development specialist with the North Dakota State University Extension Service’s Center for 4-H Youth Development.

“It allows them to further hone life skills they have learned in 4-H, such as strategic thinking, speaking up about issues that concern them and forming partnerships to move ideas forward as engaged citizens,” she said.

NDSU Agriculture Communication

Source:Rachelle Vettern, (701) 231-7541, rachelle.vettern@ndsu.edu
Editor:Ellen Crawford, (701) 231-5391, ellen.crawford@ndsu.edu
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