More than 1,200 U.S. teens will come to Atlanta Nov. 27 to Dec. 1 for the 76th National 4-H Congress.
"Each of these young people has shown leadership potential,'" said Susan Stewart, National 4-H Congress coordinator. "They all want to improve their communities and the world. That's why this year's Congress theme is 'Make the Difference.'"
The youths, ages 14-19, will attend educational programs and cultural events in Atlanta. They will hear from former United Nations Ambassador Andrew Young, Paralympic gold medalist and author Scot Hollonbeck and Miss America 1999, Nicole Johnson.
The delegates will choose from more than 19 educational programs. The topics will range from conflict mediation and youth leadership skills to biotechnology in agriculture and global environmental policies.
"All the youths at Congress will be better able to lead in their own communities," Stewart said. "They will gain experience from the educational programs. But they will also learn from the diversity of cultural experiences National 4-H Congress offers."
Delegates will learn community service, too, from a hands-on point of view. They will divide into groups and perform projects around the city with Miss America.
"These projects were a great success in Memphis, where the Congress was for the past three years," Stewart said. "The 4-H'ers learn how they can work with others to make a difference in a community."
The youths are encouraged to start community service projects when they return home.
"In the past, service groups have remembered the hard work and efforts these students gave in Memphis," Stewart said. "Now the new Congress attendees will have a chance to make a difference in Atlanta."
On the last day of Congress, the youths will have a town hall meeting hosted by CNN's Leon Harris, co-anchor of "Early Edition," to discuss ethics issues for young people. Over the summer, more than 1,000 4-H'ers conducted surveys near their homes.
The survey, developed by the North Carolina Extension Service, will reveal the views of more than 2,000 people nationwide. It will help show how youths form ethical standards.
At the 4-H Congress town hall meeting, the delegates will discuss what the survey means to them.
(Faith Peppers is the director of public affairs with the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.)