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79th National 4-H Congress Convenes in Atlanta

More than 1,300 U.S. teens are headed to Atlanta for the 79th National 4-H Congress.

"'Make the Difference,' the theme of this year's Congress (Nov. 24-28), 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. They will hear from Miss America 2001 Angela Baraquio, Paralympic gold medalist and author Scot Hollonbeck, Kennesaw State University President Betty Siegel and Atlantan Milton Creagh.

18 Educational Programs

The delegates will choose from more than 18 educational programs. The topics will range from colorization of America and cultural diversity to the future of agriculture, stress management and teen violence.

"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."

Community Service, Too

Delegates will learn community service, too, from a hands-on point of view. They will make more than 200 coats for Atlanta homeless children. Along with Miss America, delegates will also work at Art of the Season, a fund-raising event for Children's Healthcare of Atlanta, leading children in making crafts.

"Each delegate will also bring a book to donate to Children's Healthcare of Atlanta's 'Reach Out & Read' program," Stewart said. "Since National 4-H Congress came to Atlanta in 1998, delegates have annually spread across Atlanta and participated in a wide variety of projects. They are encouraged to start similar community service projects when they return to their own communities."

On the last day of Congress, the delegates will have a youth issues discussion reflecting what they learned during the week.

(Faith Peppers is the director of public affairs with the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.)

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