Fayette County 4-H members Clare Sollars and Riley Evans were recently afforded the opportunity to travel to Washington D.C. for the National 4-H Conference.
They both serve on the Ohio 4-H Teen Advisory Council and were selected as two of the six Ohio 4-H program state delegates. The Ohio 4-H program paid for the entirety of their once-in-a-lifetime trip. They left on Saturday, April 9.
The National 4-H Conference is the premier civic engagement opportunity for 4-H members (15-19 years) who are actively engaged in 4-H programs across the U.S. and its territories. The conference is administered by 4-H National Headquarters of the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) within the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). This experience upholds a tradition dating back to 1927.
On the first day of conference, each state brought pins to exchange with other states and become more familiar with the 4-H programs in other states, Puerto Rico, and Canada. A trip to Washington could not have been complete without some sightseeing. During the monuments tour on Tuesday night, the delegates visited the World War II Memorial, Vietnam War Memorial, Korean War Memorial, Lincoln Memorial, and Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial.
On Sunday, each 4-H member met with their round table team members to work on their presentations, which is the heart of the conference. Riley and Clare were each assigned to a round table based off of their individual preferences. Once assigned to a round table, they worked with their team members from around the country to research an important, societal topic and prepare a presentation to deliver at the end of the week to a certain federal agency.
Clare served on the Fitness Round Table that worked in conjunction with the President’s Council on Fitness, Sports, and Nutrition (PCFSN). The question asked to Clare and her round table members was about the state of fitness of kids with disabilities and how the issue can be improved. Clare’s round table presented their presentation on Tuesday to the council.
Riley served on the Choosing Peace Round Table that worked in conjunction with the U.S. Department of State. The Department of State asked Riley and his round table members about what strategies could be recommended to the Department of State to consider implementing to help ensure that youth in America and abroad become and stay engaged in peaceful, positive activities and organizations, rather than be enticed to join and participate in groups or organizations that may have violent or extremist intentions or actions. Riley’s round table shared their research and input to Department of State officials on Tuesday.
Kameron Rinehart, also a Fayette County 4-H and Teen Advisory Council member, was present at the conference, but he played a different role. Kameron served on the Youth Leadership Team, which assists with the planning of the National 4-H Conference. Kameron was an Ohio delegate last year.
On Tuesday morning, Riley and Clare took part in the launch of the new National 4-H campaign, Grow Leaders. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, 2016 Miss America Betty Cantrell, National 4-H CEO Jennifer Sirangelo, and country musician Jennifer Nettles were all present for the campaign launch and spoke at the campaign start. Clare assisted Lazarus Lynch, celebrity chef and entrepreneur, serve his 4 green mix and herb grilled chicken at a banquet reception afterward.
On Wednesday, Riley and Clare visited the office of their U.S. Representative, Steve Stivers, to speak with an assistant about the Ohio 4-H program. The rest of the day was spent touring Washington D.C. They visited the White House, The American Indian Museum, Holocaust Museum, and the Washington Monument. The Ohio delegation ate at Carmine’s for dinner before heading home the next morning from an unforgettable trip and opportunity.