AMES, Iowa -- More than 1.000 Iowa youth will arrive in Ames for the annual Iowa 4-H Conference on June 28.
Students who have completed eighth through 12th grade are eligible to attend this three-day event on the Iowa State University (ISU) campus. Youth will experience college life by spending two nights in the dorms and meeting peers from across Iowa.
This year's theme, Get in the Groove, encourages participants to discover their leadership groove. Youth will have the opportunity to explore their interests through three educational workshops. Students choose from 40 workshops covering a wide variety of issues in science, conservation, health, technology, college life and social issues.
Many students find these workshops to be influential in choosing a program of study for college. Some students decide they want to attend ISU after experiencing campus life there.
Susan McKinley, a junior at ISU, attended the Iowa 4-H Conference four times as a high school student and was on the 2001-2002 Iowa 4-H Council. Her experiences at the conference influenced her decision to attend ISU.
"I fell in love with the ISU campus," McKinley said.
Youth will learn the importance of community service by assisting various local agencies and organizations in community service events, such as Operation: Help a Hero, which provides military families with donated phone cards and stamps.
"By participating in community service, youth get new ideas for local service projects, and a chance to interact with other conference delegates and see how their work has a positive impact on the community," Brenda Allen, ISU Extension 4-H program specialist, said.
Members of the Iowa 4-H Council sharpened their leadership skills through helping plan the conference workshops and events, and choosing two speakers for the event.
"Planning the conference strengthened my leadership skills and taught me the importance of responsibility," McKinley said. "It made me less afraid to approach business people and other adults."
Although students practice many life skills through their participation in the event, the social aspect also is important. For many youth, the highlight of the conference is a dance. Participants also have the chance to spend time with their new friends swimming, bowling and performing in the talent show.
"My favorite part of the conference was meeting new people and making lifelong friends," McKinley said.
4-H conferences date to the 1920s, when boys and girls met separately for conventions. The first official coed Iowa 4-H Youth Conference was held in 1963.
Carol Ouverson, Continuing Education and Communication Services, (515) 294-9640, firstname.lastname@example.org