4-H leadership conference brings youth together

Brandy Orlando, Moran, Leslie, Martin, Karen M.  |  3/24/2015 9:06:05 PM

Members of the 4-H State Executive Board greet students with Mardi Gras beads when arriving at the 2015 Junior Leadership Conference at Grant Walker 4-H Educational Center March 13-15. Pictured left to right are Loveless Decuir, Katelyn Schwartz, Jacob Ellis, Sarah Owens and Marcus Broussard. (Photo by Brandy Orlando)

LSU AgCenter extension associate Ashley Mullens, second from right in front, and students in the service-learning track rest after planting marsh grass and shearing shrubs for testing in wetlands at the AgCenter Camp Grant Walker Educational Center during the 2015 Junior Leadership Conference at Grant Walker 4-H Educational Center March 13-15. (Photo by Brandy Orlando)

News Release Distributed 03/24/15

POLLOCK, La. – Nearly 440 4-H’ers representing every parish in the state attended the 2015 Junior Leadership Conference at Grant Walker 4-H Educational Center March 13-15.

This year’s theme was Mardi Gras: Let the Leadership Roll. The conference featured a variety of workshop tracks, including service-learning, leadership, networking/teamwork, performing arts, outdoor skills, and science, engineering and technology (SET).

“The goal is to provide fun, hands-on leadership experiences,” said Karen Martin, LSU AgCenter 4-H coordinator in the Northwest Region and co-sponsor of the state 4-H Executive Board.

Within the tracks, students participate in activities such as wetland preservation, archery, first aid education, performing arts, public speaking, problem solving and anti-bullying campaigns.

“My favorite part about JLC is being part of a track that I’m passionate about and getting to meet people my age from all over the state,” said Christina Cummings, a first-year attendee from North DeSoto High School.

A featured element of the Junior Leadership Conference is the youth-driven focus. The state 4-H Executive Board is responsible for planning and teaching the entire conference. The tracks are determined based on trending topics related to teens.

LSU AgCenter youth development coordinator Leslie Moran said the event is unique because it gives the 4-H’ers an opportunity to demonstrate leadership with their peers.

“They aren’t just learning leadership, they are practicing leadership,” said Moran, who is also an executive board co-sponsor.

Petyon Arthur, state 4-H Executive Board president, said the biggest success of conference is the rising attendance. Since the event has been youth-driven, participation has more than tripled.

“The board’s promoting techniques and positive feedback make students want to come back. And in turn, we continue to grow,” Arthur said.

A highlight of this year’s program was the color run to promote healthy living and leadership with color. Students were decorated in green, purple and gold chalk paint. The executive board discussed what the colors of the Mardi Gras palette represent and how they apply to leadership.

Junior Leadership provides an opportunity to increase leadership skills and knowledge for youth across Louisiana. Elections for the new executive board were conducted at the conference, and they will begin planning next year’s event in June.

Brandy Orlando

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