Growth, Learning, and Victory: California 4-H Excels at NJHA 2023

Oct 17, 2023

Growth, Learning, and Victory: California 4-H Excels at NJHA 2023

Oct 17, 2023

Our California 4-H Horticulture Team headed to Kalamazoo, Michigan on October 6th to participate in the 2023 National Junior Horticultural Association (NJHA) annual convention. The event included teams from all over the country. Each state brings a state display which highlights agricultural products from their home state. Our theme this year was nut production and we shared samples of various California nuts. It was an exciting and educational experience for all!

Representing California 4-H

Our California 4-H team members— Allura Andersen (Contra Costa County), Richard Paseman (Alameda County), Andrew Logan (Yolo County) and Karenna Henneker (Alameda County)—qualified for the event by being among the highest scoring seniors at the State Field Day Plant Identification Contest in May 2023. Throughout the fall, our team practiced both individually and together via Zoom with our wonderful and dedicated coach, Michael Rethwisch, who taught us so much in a short time. We are so grateful for his support and wisdom.

Our California team did extraordinarily well in the competition, placing 2nd overall! We also placed well individually:

4-H Senior Individual category

  • Andrew Logan - 1st place
  • Richard Paseman - 5th place
  • Allura Andersen- 10th place

Open Individual category: Karenna Henneker, 1st place

In addition to our team, two California 4-H'ers attended the NJHA convention to participate in the open class divisions. In the junior division, James Logan of Yolo County 4-H placed first, and Grace Logan of Yolo County 4-H placed 2nd! They were inspired to join our team at the NJHA convention from participating in the Plant Science Contest at State Field Day, where they placed 1st and 2nd at the Junior level. We are so proud of all their amazing accomplishments and hard work.

Learning, Fun and Team Bonding

The NJHA convention was full of amazing opportunities to learn about horticulture and to make lasting friendships and connections with teammates. The team participated in several workshops and tours, including to the Kalamazoo Valley Community College Food Innovation Center. We toured the facility and learned about aquaponics, hydroponics, and horticulture therapy. In addition, we had several study sessions and workshops with NJHA leaders, our coach Michael, and even a very exciting round of Horticultural Connections, a jeopardy-like game complete with buzzers, pitting states vs. each other in a fun and friendly way.

Sharing a Passion for Horticulture

The NJHA convention is a wonderful opportunity for youth who are passionate about horticulture to meet new people with similar interests and learn from experienced horticulturalists from all over the United States. The highlight of the convention is the Plant Identification Contest, where youth identify 100 different plant samples, answer 80 multiple choice questions, and complete a judging section, where youth grade plants by quality and uniformity.

We are all grateful for:

  • The support from our families, who encouraged over the last several months and for attending the convention with us
  • State and County 4-H leaders for their generous support
  • NJHA leaders for convening such an inspirational convention, and
  • Especially our coach, Michael Rethwisch, for his support, expert coaching and encouragement to do our very best.

Plant Science Contest at State Field Day

We'll be hosting the Plant Science Contest at State Field Day again this year in May, on the UC Davis campus. Subscribe to the state 4-H newsletter to stay updated on contest registration and event updates as it gets closer.