It seems like it has only been a short time, but it has been several years since the Teen 4-H conference first started. While there are a number of events available for older 4-H members, the teen conference was started for pre-teen age members, to introduce them to a stat- wide conference and to acquaint them with events that will be available to them in the future.
There are several trips and conferences that are available for older members and these events provide good learning opportunities. They have a great time, as well as making new friends.
When the Teen Conference first started, I thought it was a good event for the members to attend. Our granddaughter, Morgan Ernsbarger, has been an active 4-H member and I had been hoping that she would attend the Teen Conference when she became old enough. This event was recently held over a weekend and I was pleased when I heard that she was going to attend. Still, it came as a surprise to me because I did not realize that she had reached that age so soon.
Those attending are between 11 and 13 years of age. The Teen Conference is a fun-filled two-day event, planned and implemented by the State 4-H Council to: build leadership skills through quality learning experiences, provide opportunities to make new 4-H friends across Missouri, introduce some opportunities that await 4-H'ers as teenagers and connect youth with their older teen leaders on the 4-H council. The conference that Morgan and the others attended accomplished all of these purposes.
I tried to get Morgan to write a report on the conference for me -- that never happened. I thought a report from her would make it easier to prepare a column about the Teen Conference, but she is a busy girl and that is the reason she gave me for not writing a report about the conference.
Vernon County was well represented at the conference, which is good for the 4-H program. These are young members willing to step into leadership roles. Morgan is a member of Lone Star 4-H Club. Others from Vernon County included Reece and Joseph, West Point 4-H Club; Justin Hurst, Show-Me 4-H Club; Darcy Bond, Country Clovers 4-H Club; Hanna Quitno, Lone Star 4-H; Cara Comstock and Hannah Horn, Walker 4-H; Hanna Miller, Bronaugh 4-H; and Maddi and Riley Gordon, Milo-Oak Dale 4-H Club.
Global education was included in the conference. Morgan said that what she liked the most about the conference was listening to a lady from Russia. She shared with them the letters in their language.
I had an opportunity to visit with Hannah Horn and she was also energized about the conference she attended. She is a fifth year 4-H member. She said that the conference was held at Stony Creek Inn. Her favorite thing about the conference was the dance.
Hannah said that in the groups they learned about self defense, proper etiquette and they received information on trips and awards, as well as the International Youth Exchange. Among the projects that Hanna is taking include the clowning project. Her goal in 4-H is eventually to go to Australia on an exchange program.
Dominic Habjan, president of the Vernon County 4-H Council, also attended the Teen Conference because of being the regional representative from the State 4-H Conference. It is a special honor for Dominic, who is a senior at Nevada High School, to serve on the state council, likewise it is an honor for Vernon County to have a member to serve on the council.
He is one of about 35 members on the council. They are the ones who planned and implemented the Teen Conference. Not only did they develop a good conference for the younger members, they also practiced their leadership skills. Dominic and the others on the state council serve as good role models for the younger members.
Dominic said on developing the conference the council members made the arrangements for the hotel and made phone calls to the speakers and other resource people. They took care of all of the details. This is a major undertaking for these older 4-H members. Dominic also said that what he liked best about the conference was the dance.
Hopefully, Vernon County will continue to be actively involved in future 4-H Teen Conferences. The theme for this year's program was "Step up with Missouri 4-H."
By attending the conference these members are stepping up.