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MISSISSIPPI YOUTH UNDERTAKE CHALLENGE TO SHAPE 4-H FUTURE

by: Patti Drapala
MSU Ag Communications

MISSISSIPPI STATE -- The challenge has begun for Mississippi youth to make the next hundred years of 4-H more remarkable than the first.

More than 600 youth, their volunteer leaders and Mississippi State University Extension Service staff worked hard to make the 2008 4-H Congress successful. The event took place May 28-30 at MSU.

“Each year, we welcome the chance to share our university life with 4-H members and afford them opportunities to compete, participate and lead,” said Susan Holder, state 4-H program leader. “By attending Congress, we hope young people will be motivated to support and promote 4-H in their communities back home.”

4-H Congress activities include opportunities for program and leadership development through workshops, contests, elections and visual presentations. Some events, such as those that involve livestock, plants and consumer science, have been part of 4-H Congress for some time.

Today's 4-H youth also are interested in computers, robotics and fitness. Those themes are covered in many of the activities offered at various locations on campus during their stay.

“There are many different things to do at 4-H Congress,” said Harvey Gordon, 4-H youth development specialist. “The only problem for many participants is finding time to do them all.”

One event that captured the attention of many 4-H members was the Fish Mobile Art workshop led by Carroll County 4-H youth agent Anna Austin.

Austin said the project was designed to encourage leadership skills in the 4-H'ers by showing them how to teach arts and crafts to young children and be creative in recycling plastic bottles.

The instructor told 4-H'ers to fashion the fish by cutting fins, scales and tails outlined on the bottles. They used 15 shades of acrylic paint to create unusual colors and patterns on each creature.

After gluing eyes and completing their design, the 4-H'ers attached the fish to small tree limbs with string to make them float in the air.

“I signed up for this workshop because it focused on us learning to do something,” said Donald Holmes II, a Pike County 4-H'er who will begin his freshman year at Tugaloo College this fall. “This workshop will help me in my job this summer as a children's tutor.”

Learning has been an invaluable part of the 4-H experience for many youth. What they may remember years later are the friends they made at Congress, said Kaylee Keith, state 4-H council president.

“Youth have a chance at 4-H Congress to meet their peers from all over the state,” she said. “While they have fun, they are making friends that will last a lifetime.”

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