AMES, Iowa -- Iowa State University hosted 600 youth delegates for three days last week for the 2019 Iowa 4-H Youth Conference, themed “A Universe of Possibilities.” Every June, teenagers from across the state gather on the Iowa State campus for three days full of speakers, workshops, mixers, dances, special events and civic engagement activities.
Youth who attended the conference June 25-27 dove into their passions, discovered career opportunities, and learned about life on a college campus all while meeting other youth from across the state. Delegates participated in educational workshops, heard from multiple keynote speakers, exhibited their talents and gathered new ideas to take back to their communities. With over 33 workshop topics to choose from each day, delegates were seen practicing for the conference choir, learning about algae in Iowa surface waters, designing architecture, researching diseases, and becoming educated about mental and emotional health and much more.
“The conference is organized by the State 4-H Council, a group of leadership-driven high school youth,” said Haley Jones, conference coordinator, and 4-H youth program specialist. “Everything from the theme, keynote speakers, banquet entertainment and schedule of events, is determined by the State 4-H Council members. They can consider their own experiences and interests and those of their peers during the planning process, making the Youth Conference a truly unique experience.”
The annual conference also provides youth the opportunity to participate in civic engagement sessions. Delegates helped with community service projects at Reiman Gardens, participated in a mock caucus with Secretary of State Paul Pate’s team and discovered a variety of cultures across Iowa through an interactive culture fair.
The Youth Conference welcomed three keynote speakers to the Stephens Auditorium stage to address the delegates surrounding the theme of “A Universe of Possibilities.” Adventurer John Beede opened the conference with a motivational message about striving for your goals, award-winning photographer John Noltner shared a message about understanding the meaning of peace around the world, and retired NASA astronaut Peggy Whitson concluded the conference with an inspirational message about how her involvement in 4-H shaped her life as an astronaut. The Brazilian Twins (B2wins) provided musical entertainment for the delegation at the formal banquet.
Youth who have completed eighth grade up through youth who have completed 12th grade are invited to attend the Iowa 4-H Youth Conference each year. 4-H members, as well as youth who have not participated in 4-H, are invited to attend. Registration for the 2020 Iowa 4-H Youth Conference will open in March 2020 with conference dates set for June 30-July 2, 2020, at Iowa State University.
For more information regarding the Iowa 4-H Youth Conference, visit www.extension.iastate.edu/4h/iowa4hyouthconference.
Photo: Incoming State 4-H Council members Emily Tags (left) and Emily Plagman (middle) participate in an educational workshop at the 2019 Youth Conference.