More than 1,300 U.S. teens will come to Atlanta Nov. 26-30 for the 78th National 4-H Congress.
"‘Make the Difference,' the theme of this year's Congress, tells the story for these young people,"said Susan Stewart, National 4-H Congress director.
"Chosen from their history of leadership in communities in 48 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico, each of these young people comes to Atlanta with a desire to increase their ability to lead," she said.
The youths, ages 14-19, will attend educational programs and cultural events in Atlanta. They will hear from Atlanta media mogul Ted Turner, Paralympic gold medalist and author Scot Hollonbeck and Miss America 2000, Heather French.
The delegates will choose from more than 19 educational programs. The topics will range from investing in the stock market and youth leadership skills to biotechnology in agriculture and finding balance between economics and environment.
"Congress delegates will return home better able to ‘Make a Difference' in their own communities," Stewart said. "The knowledge gained during their stay in Atlanta will be used to make positive changes in communities across the nation. Atlanta provides an excellent backdrop for the diversity of cultural experience National 4-H Congress offers."
Making Better Communities
Delegates will learn community service, too, from a hands on point of view. They will perform community projects around the city including clearing nature trails for wheelchair access for the Cobb County Association of Retarded Citizens, visiting patients at the Veteran's Hospital, packing food for AIDS homebound patients at Project Open Hand and helping chefs at the DeKalb County Schools' test kitchen make cookies for needy organizations and shelters.
"In 1998, National 4-H Congress delegates spread across Atlanta and participated in a wide variety of projects," Stewart said. "The youths are encouraged to start similar community service projects when they return to their own communities."
Town Hall Meeting
On the last day of Congress, the youths will have a town hall meeting, hosted by WAGA Fox 5 Atlanta's Amanda Davis. They will discuss ethics issues for young people. Over the summer, more than 1,000 4-H'ers conducted surveys in their hometowns.
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.)