4-H Alumni Reflection: National 4-H Conference

By Whitney Kirkpatrick April 10, 2018

As I look back on my 4‑H career, there are certain events that stand out as being particularly impactful, and National 4‑H Conference was one of them. In honor of the 2018 National 4‑H Conference happening this week, I would like to share about my own National Conference experience. I was selected for the 2012 Georgia delegation to attend National 4‑H Conference through a competitive interview process. I flew to Washington, D.C., that April with the rest of the Georgia delegation for a week filled with learning, fun and experiences that created lasting memories.

Part of the time at Conference was spent touring Washington, D.C., meeting with legislators at the Capitol, and hearing from keynote speakers such as former Second Lady Jill Biden and former United States Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack at the National 4‑H Conference Center. However, the majority of the time was spent working in roundtable groups that partnered with federal agencies about current topics that were affecting youth nationwide. The topics for that year included alcohol and drug use prevention, equal education for under-represented groups, youth suicide prevention, healthy eating and living, and integration of veteran and military families into local communities.

The roundtable that I was a part of focused on using science and technology to improve local communities. We spent our roundtable session time brainstorming solution ideas and working on our presentation that we gave at the U.S. Forest Service at the end of the week. It was such an exciting opportunity to be able to present our ideas to an actual government agency in D.C. because our proposal had the chance to make a real-world impact. We celebrated our work and the new friendships with a dinner cruise on the Potomac River to close out the week.

National 4‑H Conference was my second time visiting Washington, D.C., and the National 4‑H Center as I had attended Citizenship Washington Focus the summer before. Through these two experiences, I discovered my love for the D.C. area and decided that I someday wanted to call this place my home. Six years later, I have relocated and am working as a Digital Marketing Intern forNational 4‑H Council. I am thankful for my National 4‑H Conference and CWF experiences because they helped me discover my passions, and they played a role in getting me to where I am today.

Attending National 4‑H Conference allowed me to connect with other 4‑H’ers and leaders from across the country, explore our nation’s capital, and work with a team to develop solutions to a current issue. I have remained connected with many of the people I met that week through social media and am impressed by the things they are accomplishing in their lives today. I am excited to hear about the wonderful things that this year’s group of delegates will accomplish during their time here. I am proud to be 4‑H Grown!

4‑H Alumni Reflection: National 4‑H Conference