- Author: Michaela Beckman
- Author: Isabelle Cialone
- Author: Tejas Billa
- Author: Sanjana Badami
This April, five of us California 4-H'ers traveled to Washington D.C. for the 2023 National 4-H Conference. We even had a California 4-H'er, Ben Cederlof, on the USDA's 4-H Youth Leadership Team for the second year in a row! With a focus on civic engagement and leadership, we participated in roundtables to create briefings for federal agencies like the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and met with our Congress people to discuss support for 4-H at a federal level. We had opportunities to see historic sites and monuments, as well as to meet and engage with 4-H'ers from so many other states and US territories.
It was an incredible experience for all of us to be able to learn more about the 4-H experience of other youths, as well as to be able to share our own stories. We all encourage 4-H'ers in California to consider applying to be a part of future National Conference delegations, as this was something we will never forget!
My name is Michaela and I had the opportunity to be a part of the California delegation to the National 4-H Conference this year! It was my first time traveling to the east coast, and it was absolutely incredible to meet so many people from every corner of our country in one place. We had a state pin exchange on the first day where we even managed to trade with Alaska 4-H!
A highlight of the trip for me was meeting my Congresswoman, Katie Porter. We discussed support for 4-H through the Farm Bill, and had an amazing meeting with her. It was incredible to see how our efforts led her to advocate for 4-H on the House floor a month later. (Watch the video here!)
I even got to meet a cabinet member, Secretary Marcia Fudge of the U.S. Dept. of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), and presented a briefing to her staff about how HUD-assisted youth can be helped to gain more financial education, though it technically didn't have much to do with civic engagement or leadership. Learning line dances from the other 4-H'ers was pretty cool too!
Hi! My name is Isabelle, and I was a part of the California National 4-H Conference delegation. My roundtable (shoutout roundtable 17!) was focused on the Department of Labor and youth workforce and education re-entry programs. My favorite part of the conference (aside from learning a bunch of line dances) was getting to see the city of D.C. and exploring the different landmarks, both with the whole group during the night tour and with my delegation. During the night tour, we played Presidential Trivia and I answered three out of five questions correctly! I was surprised by how much I knew about presidents. My favorite monument was the Washington Monument, because it looked really pretty with the sky, like you can see in the picture. It was also a fun challenge to try to collect pins from as many states as possible!
My name is Tejas, and I loved my experience as a National Conference Delegate for California 4-H. It was incredibly rewarding to be able to provide a youth voice on Capitol Hill and at the Department of Energy, where I presented my youth roundtable. My favorite parts were meeting with our legislators at the Capitol and exploring the city with our delegation. Our roundtable group from all across America put tons of hard work into researching our topic, nuclear energy marketing, and presenting our briefing to staff at the Department's headquarters. Additionally, we all scheduled meetings with our politicians in D.C. to advocate for more funding for 4-H through the Farm Bill. I got a coveted selfie with Senator Alex Padilla! One of my favorite experiences was also getting a library card from the Library of Congress. National 4-H Conference was the single best opportunity I've had to expand on my passion for civic engagement, and I highly recommend attending!
Hi, I'm Sanjana! Being a part of the California 4-H National Conference Delegation has been an incredible, and also rewarding experience. My favorite part of the National 4-H Conference was exploring D.C. and line dancing with the California delegation. It was also great to make 4-H friends from all across the United States, and I'm so glad to still be in touch with my roundtable friends! My roundtable focused on creating a presentation on ensuring success in various career pathways, which we presented to the Department of Education in D.C. It was great to listen to new perspectives and get to know one another. Not only did we engage in roundtables, but we also did community service at the United States National Arboretum! While our delegation was there, we went on a scenic tour and learned about the types of plant species there and their history. We explored the National Bonsai and Penjing Museum, the National Capitol Columns, and various gardens as well.
Hi, I'm Rachel from Santa Barbara County! At the 4-H National Conference, I had the chance to present a presentation on Mental Health needs in rural communities to lawmakers and facilitate the discussion of the importance of mental health initiatives.
Through research with my workshop group, I learned how mental health is a serious issue in rural America. According to the National Rural Health Association, rural Americans are more likely to experience mental health problems than their urban counterparts. They are also less likely to have access to mental health care. Our goal in meeting with lawmakers was to raise awareness of this issue and to urge them to support mental health programs in rural communities. We shared statistics and personal stories about the struggles faced by rural Americans. We also provided ideas for initiatives and efforts that would help with this problem.
Speaking before the House Committee on Agriculture was nerve-wracking yet empowering. It was an honor to represent California 4-H and to advocate for mental health awareness. Leaving D.C., I felt a sense of accomplishment as I not only felt successful in creating a powerful presentation, but also felt successful in creating new memories and friendships.
Registration is now open for the 2024 National 4-H Conference
Don't miss your chance to make your own memories and life-long friendships. The 2024 National 4-H Conference is April 19-24 in Arlington, Virginia. All expenses are paid through a grant from the Thomas and Dorothy Leavey Foundation.
Go to our event page to see all the requirements to apply and get started. This is an opportunity for you to meet 4-H'ers from across the country and have your voice heard by top government agencies. Applications and references are due by 5:00 pm, November 30, 2023.