Iowa Youth Delegates Reflect on Experiences at National 4-H Congress

Iowa 4-H delegationAMES, Iowa – Nineteen Iowa youth delegates returned from National 4-H Congress inspired to make a difference, more culturally aware of the ethnic diversity around the world and in their local communities and having made friendships that will last a lifetime.

On Thanksgiving weekend delegates from throughout the United States and its territories traveled to Atlanta, Ga., to participate in the 92nd National 4-H Congress. The event provides a mix of educational, leadership, service and recreational opportunities for 4-H youth.

“National 4-H Congress was the trip of a lifetime,” said Matt Staley, National 4-H Congress delegate from Crawford County. “Never again will I have the opportunity to join 1,000 of the best and brightest 4-H’ers from across the country at one time.” Staley met 4-H’ers from New Mexico, Maryland, Puerto Rico and Hawaii and developed strong friendships with members of the Iowa delegation.

National 4-H Congress is planned by a group of youth and adults who serve on the national design team. Emily Dickinson of Harrison County had such a positive experience attending National 4-H Congress last year that she applied and was selected to serve as a member of the 2013 youth design team. The team met and worked throughout the year to plan the educational workshops, tours, entertainment and community service and theme, “Passport to Excellence,” for the 2013 program.

Emily Dickinson “It was both fun and challenging to give input and ideas on how to enhance the National 4-H Congress event,” said Dickinson. “I had to work closely with the seven other youth design team members from across the U.S. We learned to get along, work well together and became close friends.”

As a result of her experiences serving on the design team, Dickinson gained a great deal of independence and teamwork skills as she travelled to Atlanta for design team meetings by herself and worked with team members who were located across the country. She also learned how the 4-H organization differs in each state.

“I was proud to represent the Iowa 4-H program on the design team and learned what a strong 4-H program we have here in Iowa,” said Dickinson.

“The leadership skills and experiences I’ve gained through 4-H have given me the ambition to pursue other advance leadership opportunities now in college,” she added. Dickinson is a freshman at Midland University in Fremont, Neb. She is pursuing a degree in biology and hopes to become a physician assistant.

“If anyone gets the chance to attend Congress, take it! This is without a doubt one of the most eye-opening and exciting experiences I have ever had,” said Matt Staley, 2013 National 4-H Congress delegate.

Iowa 4-H’ers in grades 10-11 are encouraged to apply to attend the 2014 National 4-H Congress. Applications are due Feb. 1, 2014 to the Iowa State 4-H Office.

For more information on 4-H National Congress and application materials, visit


[PHOTO] Emily Dickinson

[PHOTO] Iowa delegation
Caption: The Iowa 4-H youth toured the historic Ebenezer Baptist Church during National 4-H Congress in Atlanta, Ga.