Cole Tidemann, from Green Valley 4-H Club, left, and Zachary Doll, from Forest Hills 4-H Club, were Fond du Lac County delegates who attended the National 4-H Congress in Altanla, Ga. Wisconsin had almost 60 members attending, which was the largest delegation from any state.
Where can you find 1,300 youth gathered together from most of the 50 states and Puerto Rico, for five days of learning, service and fun?
Each year, in Atlanta, Georgia, 4-H youth from all over the country gather to attend the National 4-H Congress. They come to meet other youth from all over the country, to learn how to involve more people in 4-H, and to represent their state in Atlanta, Georgia. This past year, the National 4-H Congress took place on Nov. 23-27, 2012.
Zachary Doll, from the Forest Hills 4-H Club in Dotyville, near Mount Calvary, attended the National 4-H Congress in November.
Fond du Lac delegates were selected in October 2011 by an application and interview process. Fond du Lac attendees of the Congress were partially sponsored by the 4-H Adult Leaders Association and the Wisconsin 4-H Foundation.
The days at National 4-H Congress were a whirl of meetings, assemblies, community service, getting to know one another, dances, and museum tours. One of our speakers was Dr. Eugene Schoenfeld, who talked about his experience in the holocaust as a person with Jewish background. He told how he and his father were taken away from the rest of his family. It was incredibly moving to hear him talk about his brother, who was taken by the Nazis, and how he has always hoped to see him again. He told how he bore no ill-will to his Nazi captors, and how he was able to forgive them. Dan Clark and Miss America 2012 came to give motivational speeches on other nights of the Congress.
While attending, delegates had the opportunity to meet and make friends from 42 other states and the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico. Wisconsin had the largest delegation from any state present, almost 60 members. Attendees learned about the 4-H program in many states, and marveled that the 4-H trip application process, the county fairs, the interviewing process, and the county 4-H programs were all so different. As a small example, one delegate had to fill out a portfolio for years to get a chance to attend Congress, and then go through several interviews. Some delegates were the top poultry or beef winner in their state, and that qualified them for National 4-H Congress.
Delegates from Fond du Lac County had to fill out an application and be interviewed at the county level to be accepted to attend National 4-H Congress. Delegates from Fond du Lac also had to be members in good standing in their clubs, demonstrating leadership, responsibility, and service while at 4-H in club and county activities.
The Wisconsin delegates had the experience of eating at a southern diner; attending tours of places like The World of Coke or the Atlanta Aquarium; visiting the Atlanta History Museum; and doing community service work at a cemetery; food pantry; crisis pregnancy center; and several elementary schools.
Zachary Doll's community service experience was to go to an early learning academy, with a dozen other delegates. A delegate from Louisiana and Doll interacted with a group of five to six year old children for a few hours. The youth learned a lot from this experience. It was interesting to see the discipline that was taught to such young children. When they arrived, the teachers were able to interact with smaller groups of children, and teach them things that might have been difficult to teach in a larger group.
Doll attended the Congress with another Fond du Lac County 4-H member, Cole Tidemann. This was a great learning experience for the two of us. Doll will always have fond memories of the Congress - including meeting people from places like Oregon to Louisiana; going to the dances; and getting to know total strangers.
Doll enjoyed his time and I would recommend to area youth to get involved in 4-H in your community. It is a great way to expand your horizions - it will enable you the opportunities of a lifetime.
Find more out about 4-H by calling the UW-Extension office at 929-3170; or visit www.fdl4h.org