Six hundred students from all throughout Iowa came to Ames this week for the annual 4-H Youth Conference.
The annual 4-H conference was Tuesday through Thursday and invited students members and non-members to come. The conference featured activities such as workshops, mixers, dances and a banquet.
The conference also featured keynote speakers including John Beede, Brazilian Twins, John Noltner and Peggy Whitson. The workshops that continued through the three-day event ranged from designing architecture to observing Iowa’s ecosystems.
Haley Jones, 4-H civic engagement and leadership program specialist, said the conference was organized by 40 high school 4-H council members. The conference was planned a year in advance and 4-H council members met in-person four times throughout the year.
“They come together in June and it [the conference] all comes together,” Jones said. “That’s probably my favorite part is watching all of the hard work happen, watch it all come together and go well. It’s exciting to see the state council members happy and excited with their plans and ideas … It’s rewarding to see that.”
Jones said one of the main purposes of the conference is for the delegates, the students who registered for the event, to develop leadership skills and introducing new ideas was a challenge.
“Coming up with new ideas is always fun, but then taking the risk to implement those new ideas can be fun but can be challenging as well,” Jones said. “ … But those can always be challenging to plan and to organize when you only get one shot at it.”
One of the new concepts for the conference was the expansion of its community service workshop which involved partnering with Reiman Gardens. The delegates that participated with this workshop helped weed the gardens and create new crafts.
The event also featured a Conference Choir, and the delegates involved would practice throughout the event and perform at the closing session. The lengths of the workshops varied with time, some lasting the full three days and the delegates were able to choose which ones they wanted to participate in based on their interests.
The conference featured over 30 workshops per-day such as “Disease Detectives,” which is about biosecurity and “Camera Corps,” where delegates worked in a technology and photography team. The two activities were popular among the delegates. Those who participated in “Camera Corps” practiced their photography throughout the three-day-event and put together a slideshow that captured the event as a whole.
The conference was also sponsored by many businesses around Iowa and colleges from the university. More information about 4-H can be found on the Iowa State Extension and Outreach website.