Sevier County was well represented at the 69th annual Tennessee 4-H Congress held earlier this spring. 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 its 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 2016 Tennessee 4-H Congress were D.W. Hall – Gatlinburg Pittman High School; Olivia Browning, Lindsey Hedrick, Holly Glynn and Nate Sams – Homeschool; and Peyton Day and Daniel Powers – Sevier County High School. Lindsey Hedrick represented Sevier County in the 9th grade State 4-H Public Speaking Contest. Mrs. Tammie Browning 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: Breaking Barriers and Building Leaders.”
Highlighting the competitions at Congress for Sevier County was Lindsey Hedrick taking the First Place Honors in the 9th Grade 4-H Public Speaking Contest. Lindsey competed against five other regional winners from across the state.
“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 2017 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 the Metro Parks of Nashville & Davidson County. 4-H delegates donated over 14,000 Easter items for the parks, which provide resources and educational opportunities for youth and seniors. The Easter items benefitted over 700 youth who participated in the Parks Easter Activities.
“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.
Feature Photo: State 4-H Congress Delegates (from left) (front row) Olivia Browning, Peyton Day, Holly Glynn. (Back Row) – State Representative Dale Car, Daniel Powers, Nate Sams, D.W. Hall, Lindsey Hedrick, State Representative Andrew Farmer, Tammie Browning, Extension Agent Glenn Turner