Sevier County was well represented at the 68th annual Tennessee 4-H Congress held March 22-25, 2015. 4-H Congress gives 4-H’ers the opportunity to learn about the day-to-day functioning of state government by assuming the roles of state representatives and senators. Since it’s beginning in 1948, 4-H Congress has given some 37,000 4-H’ers and volunteer leaders firsthand experience in state government.
Sevier County delegates at the 2015 Tennessee 4-H Congress were Curtis Green and Kestrel Troutman of Gatlinburg Pittman High School along with Trenton Dombrowski and Tyler Dombrowski, of Sevier County High School. Christy Newsom of Pigeon Forge High School represented Sevier County in the 10th Grade State 4-H Public Speaking Contest. Mrs. Kelli Green served as the adult volunteer leader for the group.
Sevier County delegates were a part of nearly 400 high-school-age 4-H’ers from all over the state that became legislators and formed a “junior” state Congress. They had the opportunity to debate and vote on youth-oriented bills in the House and Senate Chambers. In addition to learning about government and their state capitol, delegates competed in public speaking, poster and essay contests. 4-H’ers also competed in the leadership and citizenship projects for college scholarship money and trips to the National 4-H Congress in Atlanta. The theme for 4-H Congress was “Tennessee 4-H: Building Foundations for the Future.”
Highlighting the competitions at Congress for Sevier County, was Christy Newsom taking the First Place Honors in the 10th Grade 4-H Public Speaking Contest. Christy competed against five other regional winners from across the state. Her state winning speech provides a picture of her 4-H experiences through the lens of her camera and the 4-H photography project.
“Tennessee 4-H Congress is one of the highlights for our 4-H program,” said Glenn K. Turner, Sevier County 4-H Agent. “This event helps youth better understand government and the legislative process and how they can be a part of this citizenship experience in order to make a difference.”
In addition to project competition and learning about state government, delegates participated in a number of other activities including the Tennessee 4-H Congress Pageant, a luncheon on the General Jackson Showboat, the election of the 2016 Tennessee 4-H Congress officers, the inaugural ball and a service-learning project.
Tennessee 4-H Congress delegates used their “Hands and Hearts for Larger Service” through a service project to benefit Make-A-Wish of Middle Tennessee. 4-H delegates raised and donated $9,085.09 to grant a wish for Michelle, a Tennessee young person dealing with Osteosarcoma, to go to Disney World May 9-15.
“Service opportunities are a very important component of the 4-H program,” said Dr. Richard Clark, Assistant Dean and Department Head for 4-H Youth Development/ALEC. “Last year, 4-H’ers statewide performed 627,396 hours of volunteer service at an estimated value of 12.6 million dollars. Through the service-learning projects, our 4-H’ers learn that they can really make a difference in their communities.”
4-H is the Youth Development program for University of Tennessee Extension. 4-H teaches leadership, citizenship and service learning to more than 179,000 youth in grades 4-12. 4-H also has more than 5,000 adult volunteers. UT Extension is one of four units in the UT Institute of Agriculture.