Iowa 4-H Youth Develop Healthy Living Action Plan at Ignite Summit in Washington, D.C.


May 28, 2024, 11:47 am | Sydney Peterson, Cayla Taylor

AMES, Iowa – The Iowa 4-H Healthy Living Ambassadors participated in the national Ignite by 4-H Summit – developing an action plan, sharing ideas and connecting with peers from other states.

They were among 37 4-H youth in grades 7-12 who were selected to represent Iowa at the teen summit, held March 13-17 in Washington, D.C. Over 1,200 youth from throughout the United States participated in the event, which aimed to help teens find their spark and learn the skills they need to create a positive impact.

On track for healthy living

Iowa delegates volunteer to clean up brush, branches and trash at Common Good Farm in Washington, D.C.Ambassadors Jack Elsamiller, Bremer County; Sydney Schilling, Worth County; Emily Hulme, Tama County; Trinity Konsbruck, Harrison County; Elijah Westercamp, Van Buren County; Weston Willand, Worth County; and Madison Ingebritson, Wright County, participated in the summit’s Healthy Living track.

The group’s on-site experience included touring Common Good City Farms, a half-acre urban farm site that uses sustainable urban farming techniques. In addition to vegetables, the site also boasts a fruit orchard, beehives and compost system. The organization strives to sustain and support a more equitable community through growing, learning, cooking and sharing fresh food.

The 4-H youth learned about sustainable agriculture, the food system and how Common Good City Farm supports its community. Delegates were also inspired as they learned about their “pay-what-you-can” farm stand, which addresses the immediate food insecurity needs by ensuring that 350+ families have access to fresh fruits and vegetables regardless of their ability to pay. While there, the youth also engaged in various farm tasks, picked up garbage around the property and helped to clean up the brush and branches.

These youth attended workshops on topics varying from vaping, essential oils and food waste to digital marketing, teen cuisine, the human brain and managing food safely. In addition, each core track featured its own keynote speaker and challenge activity that teens collaborated on.

For Healthy Living, the youth worked with Maya-Camille Broussard in a salsa-making experience. They each picked up an ingredient and had to use it in its entirety in their salsa recipe without wasting any of it. The ambassadors reflected that this opened their eyes about food waste, how much food truly is wasted and small things they could do to help.

The youth found value in sharing ideas and connecting with peers from other states, noting they gained a new sense of community within their group. In their action plan, “In the Pursuit of Happiness,” they shared tips to promote happiness and mental well-being through digital content distributed through social media and other communication media.

Youth ambassadors reflected that they were surprised with how comfortable they felt in the big city atmosphere. They felt like they could live somewhere like Washington, D.C., possibly for an internship or semester in college. They also reported excitement to continue traveling to experience new places.

About the Ignite Summit

The four-day summit included inspiring and engaging panels, hands-on workshop sessions and entertainment, along with opportunities for career exploration, youth voice and building connections with teens from across the country. The high-impact programming included speakers, such as national experts, with opportunities to hone leadership skills.

Members of the Healthy Living track with their Lead to Change Action plan.This is the second year the event was held as a super summit, combining all interest tracks: STEM, agriscience, healthy living, career readiness and emotional well-being. In previous years, the event was split into four different summits. Before leaving Iowa, each delegate selected the track in which they were most interested.

Youth also heard from innovative keynote speakers Gitanjali Rao, a young inventor, author and Time Magazine's First “Kid of the Year,” and Daniel Mac, a content creator with over 20 million followers across TikTok, Instagram, YouTube and Facebook.

In addition, in partnership with adult mentors, Ignite youth participants developed and presented various 4-H Lead to Change projects during the conference. These projects challenged the delegates to brainstorm and act on an issue they care about, become catalysts for others, foster real change in their home communities, and, therefore, contribute to stronger, healthier communities.

After delegates returned to Iowa from the summit, they could submit these action plans to vie for a grant. Up to 13 Ignite Lead to Change project teams will later receive a $2,000 grant to implement their project, with one possible $5,000 grant.

Many teams plan to continue developing and implementing their Lead to Change project, demonstrating their commitment to positively impacting their communities and beyond.

Experiencing Washington, D.C.

Besides attending the summit, the delegation engaged in sightseeing. One evening, participants took a night bus tour of the national monuments. They walked around the Jefferson Memorial, World War II Memorial, Lincoln Memorial, Korean War Veterans Memorial, Vietnam Veterans Memorial and Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial. Many delegates had never been to Washington, D.C., and reported that visiting all the memorials and history there was a cherished experience.

The teens also engaged in entertainment opportunities, including a pin trade, a celebration event featuring DJ Lela Brown, a prodigy and former teen Radio Disney show host and a YouTube creator panel and dinner.

Stephanie Alanis, northwest region program assistant for ISU Extension and Outreach, was one of the chaperones who accompanied local 4-H members on the trip. She said the summit was a fantastic opportunity for the students and the adults who attended, as they connected with other students and extension staff members from Iowa and across the country.

“One of my favorite parts about the Ignite by 4-H Summit is being able to watch youth come out of their shells and interact with other 4-H’ers from across the country,” Alanis said. “Ignite by 4-H has been an event that genuinely tries to create a positive and welcoming environment for all youth in 4-H.”

Participation in the Ignite by 4-H Summit was made possible through funding from the Iowa 4-H Youth Development Program, National 4-H Council, Walmart Foundation, Google and the National Institute of Food and Agriculture.

For more information on the Iowa 4-H Youth Development program, please contact your local county ISU Extension and Outreach office or visit the Iowa 4-H website at www.extension.iastate.edu/4h.

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