AMES, Iowa – Every June, more than 1,000 teenagers converge on the Iowa State University campus for three days full of speakers, workshops, mixers, dances, a banquet and community service activities.
A variety of workshops are scheduled each day to spark the many interests of youth. These workshops range from glassblowing, Zumba dance and preserving 4-H memories to farming, shopping tips and design. Youth can choose specialized tracks that focus on a theme, like farming, or can choose a different workshop each day.
The workshops aren’t the only points of interest at the conference, noted Brenda Allen, conference coordinator and 4-H youth development specialist with Iowa State University Extension and Outreach. Each day, a different keynote speaker will address the youth participants about leadership and good decisions for the future.
“This year’s speakers come from a variety of backgrounds, but all have used a mixture of motivation and humor to reach thousands of people across the United States. They also share an enthusiasm for tomorrow’s leaders,” Allen said.
Keynote speaker Scott Greenberg is the grandson of a “Schindler’s List” holocaust survivor. He grew up hearing his grandparents’ stories of survival and developed a fascination for the area of human resilience. While he was in graduate school, doctors found a softball-sized tumor in Greenberg’s chest and diagnosed him with cancer. He left school to receive treatment. During his chemotherapy and radiation treatments, he kept a journal and noted the attitudes and behaviors of fellow patients. His curiosity become the basis for thousands of speeches.
Scott Bachovich has dedicated his life to connecting with and empowering students everywhere. His time on stage begins as a party; in one moment, students are laughing hysterically, moving actively on their feet, and shouting at the top of their lungs. Both Bachovich and Greenberg will offer a message to inspire teens to live their best.
Michael Cuestas grew up in poverty without knowing his father. He has lived in a homeless shelter, a center for victims of domestic violence and even a tent. Cuestas was able to overcome these struggles and he encourages students to overcome adversity and make the right choices.
4-H members as well as youth who have not participated in 4-H are encouraged to attend the 2012 Iowa 4-H Youth Conference. The deadline to register is May 25. For more information about the 4-H Youth Conference, contact any county office of Iowa State University Extension and Outreach or visit the Iowa 4-H Youth Development website, http://www.extension.iastate.edu/4h/stateconference/.
Youth interested in helping capture the action at the conference, should apply to be in the Camera Corps. There are also opportunities for youth to share their talents during the conference through small group discussion, the Conference Chorus and a Talent Show.
“We’re always excited for this event,” Allen said. “This event is planned by young people for young people, and it makes it both fun and relevant to today’s teens.”