All About Leadership at 4-H Congress

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This year’s 4-H Congress, held in Raleigh July 16-19, attracted more than 540 young people and their adult leaders. 4-H Congress is a four-day event in Raleigh for youth, age 13-18. Youth engage in exceptional workshops that discuss self-esteem, leadership and citizenship training, service opportunities, skill building, teambuilding, educational tours, officer elections and dances. 4-H Congress kicks off with presentations, a component in which youth compete in various categories ranging from open class topics to outdoor cookery and citizenship/community service. Youth who win gold or silver at the district level is qualified to compete at the state level. Chancellor Byrd, 13, son of William and Precious Byrd of Laurinburg, NC won gold at district and earned the top spot at the state-level against youth from across the state of North Carolina. His prize for winning gold is $200 as well as an opportunity to share his knowledge about his topic of couponing for community service. Chancellor earned a perfect score from both judges and answered several personal questions from the judges who were enthralled by his knowledge and experience in couponing.

Following presentations, youth enter the opening ceremony of 4-H Congress held at the Jane S. McKimmon Center in Raleigh, NC. During the opening ceremony, each NC county was represented with a county flag. Chancellor carried our county’s flag with pride. In addition, Keshawn Covington, 18, son of LeKisha Covington and Richard Diggs of Laurinburg, NC was selected amongst several 4-H entertains talents to perform. Keshawn sign-language the song, “Mary Did You Know”, the Cee-Lo Green version. When asked why he chose to sign this song, Keshawn shared, “I believe the melody and lyrics and movement are more beautiful,” and he was right. It was a great way to kick-off the 2016 4-H Congress.

4-H Congress follows several leadership tracks, as the participants attend the track and attend a tour. Tours included educational trips to the Hunt Library at NC State University, the Natural Museum of Science, NC State University Departments of poultry, cattle, livestock, horticulture, forestry, horses and papermaking. Youth gain first-hand knowledge of several categories, something many may have never experienced or heard of before. In addition to leadership, the youth participated in the “Feeding Children Everywhere” project. Forming several assembly lines, the participants packaged lentil casseroles by measuring a variety of bean, weighing, sealing and placing in boxes. Standing with hair nets, the 4-Hers were tasked to complete 80,000 meals but surpassed that number by 6,000. Keshawn a former Scotland High defensive linesman utilized his strength to carry heavy bags of rice to each station as well as loading and unloading completed boxes. Chancellor was on the line to ensure the measurements were accurate for packaging.

Chancellor and Keshawn participated in the “Glow in the Dark” dance and dressed up for Monday night’s gala dance. Keshawn earned the title of “Glow King” by his peers, as he wore over 20 pieces of glow sticks forming a necklace, wrist band and headbands. Monday night closes with a beautiful lighting ceremony in which the 4-Hers form a clover, the boys form the “H” of the clover leaves, connecting everyone in the true spirit of 4-H. The program was wrapped up on Tuesday afternoon by a motivational speaker and goodbyes until the youth see each other again.

The 4-H program is the youth education program of North Carolina Cooperative Extension, based at North Carolina State and North Carolina A&T State universities. More than 239,000 young people between the ages of 5 and 19 participate in North Carolina 4-H activities each year with the help of 21,700 adult and youth volunteers.

To register for 4-H is free. For more information about 4-H and all the programs and activities offered throughout the county and at district and state level, please contact Angela D. Galloway at (910) 277-2422 or

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