Youth Invited to ISU 4-H Youth Conference

May 7, 2024, 11:55 am | Sydney Peterson, Madeleine Bretey-Smith, Amy Powell

Community Service Meal Packaging at Iowa 4-H Youth Conference.AMES, Iowa - This summer, 450 teens are expected to convene on the Iowa State University campus to experience three consecutive days full of speakers, educational workshops, cultural exploration, team building and service learning. The 2024 Iowa 4-H Youth Conference, themed “Explore the Jungle of Opportunities,” will take place June 25-27.

Regardless of their previous participation in 4-H, all youth who have completed eighth grade are invited to register for the Iowa 4-H Youth Conference. Registration is $225 and is now open in 4HOnline. Registration closes on June 1.

“Conference attendees will experience Iowa State University by staying in the residence halls, eating in dining centers, attending workshops in lecture halls and exploring campus. These young people from throughout Iowa will develop skills they can take back to their communities and apply while in high school and throughout their lives,” said Madeleine Bretey-Smith, conference coordinator and civic engagement and leadership program specialist with Iowa State University Extension and Outreach.

The conference will welcome two keynote speakers who will address the delegates surrounding the theme “Explore the Jungle of Opportunities.” Director, editor, photographer, owner of KUU Productions and Emmy award-winning series “Survivor” runner-up Sabrina Thompson Mitchell will open the conference with an inspirational message equipping youth to feel confident in changing the world one creative project at a time. Author, speaker and youth mover Brandon Lee White will inspire youth to lead with character and take ownership of who they can become.

Caring for Jack Trice Stadium Workshop at Iowa 4-H Youth Conference.“State 4-H Youth Conference is such a great experience because there is something new to learn and try every day! I remember the first time I attended, I got to go to a salsa workshop. It was so much fun! Now I have had a major role in selecting what workshops happen at the conference, and I cannot wait to see how it impacts the youth that attend them,” recalled Kaci Vanlaningham, who represents Polk County on the State 4-H Council.

Youth will choose from various educational workshop topics ranging from mobile photography, fishing flies and A.I. and coding to food safety, health care and embroidery. Youth select their preferences for workshops as they register for the conference.

“All workshops are first come, first served, and some will fill up quickly,” said Bretey-Smith. “Be sure to register as soon as possible to get your pick at workshop options!”

“I also love connecting with other youth. Being together in Ames on the ISU campus allows for a lot of great conversations and connections,” said Vanlaningham.

For participants interested in animals, the Animal Science Roundup event will occur conjunctively with the Iowa 4-H Youth Conference. Animal Science Roundup participants will explore different areas of animal science through workshops, tours and hands-on learning experiences. Evening activities are the same as for the conference delegates.

Sheep Project Health Check at Animal Science Roundup.Youth can register for one of seven tracks: horse, beef cattle, dairy cattle, sheep, swine, poultry and dogs. Each project track is limited to the first 20 youth who sign up on a first come, first served basis, not requiring applications.

“Youth will spend time on the Iowa State University research and teaching farms working with animals and learning about health, nutrition, behavior, genetics and reproduction,” said Amy Powell, ISU Extension and Outreach animal science education specialist.

The State 4-H Council is a group of leadership-driven high school youth who plan this annual event. The group decides on everything from the theme and keynote speakers to workshops, banquet entertainment, service projects and schedule of events. By considering their own experiences and interests, State 4-H Council members are able to consider what their peers attending the conference would enjoy, making the 4-H Youth Conference a truly unique experience.

All conference attendees will engage in a service project component while attending the Youth Conference. State 4-H Council members have selected this year's project to support The Bridge Home, a local nonprofit organization devoted to bridging the gap between homelessness and housing by providing shelter and support and inspiring a pathway forward for individuals and families experiencing or on the verge of homelessness.

The service activity will have three rotations, including a hands-on portion of packaging items that delegates can bring to donate to the local homeless population. Delegates will also receive education about Iowa homelessness, how it is being addressed and how they can help.

Youth are encouraged to collect items such as toilet paper, paper towels, garbage bags, dishwasher pods, dish soap, laundry detergent, personal hygiene items, cleaning products, microwavable food or coffee, grocery (HyVee preferred) or gas station gift cards or full-sized bath towels or pillows for sleeping, to bring to conference for the packaging project. To learn more about The Bridge Home, visit

“I am so excited for State 4-H Conference to engage youth in a variety of educational workshops, motivating speakers and a lot of exciting conversations surrounding what they are passionate about,” said State 4-H Council member Monica Osborn from West Pottawattamie County. “4-H has the ability to cater to everyone’s interests, as well as introduce them to new experiences, and that is what we are hoping the conference can offer to everyone!”

For more information on the Iowa 4-H Youth Conference or to register, please visit

Shareable photos and captions

  • Community Service Meal Packaging: Youth at the 2023 State 4-H Youth Conference worked together to package nearly 2,000 chicken casserole kits to create over 6,000 meals and be distributed to food pantries across the Des Moines metro area.
  • Caring for Jack Trice Stadium workshop: Conference delegates learn about field painting and turfgrass management techniques at the Caring for Jack Trice Stadium workshop led by Adam Thoms at the 2023 State 4-H Youth Conference.
  • Sheep Project Health Check: 4-H members in the sheep project perform a health check on a ram lamb during Animal Roundup at the State 4-H Youth Conference.
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