For four days every summer, the 4-H flag flies in front of Burruss Hall on the Virginia Tech campus. That’s because hundreds of 4-H’ers arrive from all over Virginia to participate in the annual 4-H Congress, an event that will be held for the 87th time in 2007.
Some of the issues, activities, and events may be different in 2007 than they were at the first Congress in 1919, but the goals are the same: providing opportunities for teens to learn leadership and citizenship skills, participate in statewide competitive events, and develop useful life skills.
In 2006, more than 600 teens, along with about 125 adult volunteers, celebrated some of 4-H’s international programs.
Delegates also participated in a Youth Issues Forum about the Youth Safety Corps, a program that engages youth in addressing safety and security issues within their schools and communities, and donated and packed hundreds of small personal items to send to deployed soldiers as part of Operation Military Kids.
More than half of the Congress participants competed at the state level. Critiqued against standards of excellence by judges who provide positive feedback for improvement, the teens view these competitions as culminating events to showcase what they have learned in their chosen project area. “4-H has helped me in many ways, but I think it has helped me most by teaching me valuable life skills in public speaking and helping me see things from a different point of view,” one teen commented.
According to a survey conducted in 2006, delegates indicated that 4-H Congress helped them think critically about their future goals, identify needs in their community and work to meet those needs, and have friendships with people who are different from themselves.