4-H'ers return from annual conference
by Mark Andrews
Dec 01, 2012 | 1563 views | 0 0 comments | 12 12 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Each year, hundreds of volunteers and 4-H members gather at the Rock Eagle 4-H center in Eatonton for the annual Georgia 4-H Junior Conference.

This year, there were more than 695 participants at the Nov. 3 and Nov. 4 event, including 10 students from Bartow County, who participated in community service projects, classes, workshops and other activities.

“Junior conference is a state-wide event designed for Junior 4-H’ers — seventh and eighth graders — to experience belonging to a group of peers, demonstrate generosity through service projects, master subject matter through classes and workshops and exercise independence as they learn about possibilities available through Georgia 4-H,” Allison Perkins, Bartow County extension agent for 4-H, said in a press release. “Also providing an opportunity to build leadership skills, youth have the chance to represent their peers by serving on a Junior Board of Directors, which works with an adult committee to plan the conference.

“Senior 4-H’ers — grades nine through 12 — can also take part in the conference by instructing workshops in their particular areas of expertise. This year there were 74 teen leader spots available and 124 high school applicants.”

Isaac Griner of Woodland High School and Katilyn Drexler, a local homeschool student, were selected to teach classes at this year’s conference.

“Classes instructed by high school 4-H’ers and adult volunteers included curriculum on peer pressure, bullying, portfolio development and robotics,” Perkins said. “The conference also provided a variety of entertainment and recreation such as a dance, a scavenger hunt, a performance by Clovers & Company — the Georgia 4-H Performing Arts group — and multiple games such as miniature golf, flag football, ultimate Frisbee, relay races and a talent show.

“Speakers included the State 4-H Leader, sharing a piece of the history of Georgia 4-H and a Hancock County high school 4-H’er telling his 4-H story of coming from the south side of Chicago to Georgia 4-H, which has made him into a successful high senior.”

Perkins said the annual event also aids the community.

“Service projects, which were designed by 4-H’ers, provided participants with the opportunity to exhibit generosity and benevolence,” Perkins said. “Together, the 4-H’ers, 4-H staff,and teen leaders collected over than 1,000 coloring books for the Children’s Hospital at Memorial University in Savannah, made over 300 cards for the children at the hospital, and donated 736 jeans for teens for the Georgia Baptist Children’s Home.

“In addition to the outstanding service projects, 4-H’ers continued their 10-year tradition of collecting and selling pop tabs to benefit the Ronald McDonald Houses of Georgia. This year 4-H’ers collected 13,871.5 pounds of pop tabs for a total donation value of around $7,000. This year the donation will go to the Ronald McDonald House of the Coastal Empire in Savannah.

“The project began in 2002 when seventh and eighth grade 4-H’ers presented the idea to 4-H administration. Since that date, 4-H’ers have raised over $70,248 to support Ronald McDonald Houses across the state by selling 129,236 pounds of pop tabs.”

Woodland Middle School eighth-grader Katie Poe said she enjoyed the activities at the conference as well as the classes.

“What’s important to me about 4-H is it’s kind of like a company that helps make the world a better place,” Poe said. “... Next year I hope to do more community service than I have done this year.

“I’d like to participate in the River’s Alive program and just donate more to people in need, like the food drive and the coat drive we do every year.”

According to its website, “4-H prepares young people to step up to the challenges in their community and the world. Using research-based programming around positive youth development, 4-H youth get the hands-on real world experience they need to become leaders.”

For more information on 4-H, contact Perkins at 770-387-5142.