4-H’ers develop new skills at Junior Leadership Conference

Karol Osborne  |  3/13/2018 8:01:19 PM

(03/13/2018) POLLOCK, La. — Every time Eugenia Williams takes on a new leadership position, she gains new skills to help her in the future. The St. Landry Parish 4-H member attended the 4-H Junior Leadership Conference held March 9-11 at the LSU AgCenter 4-H Grant Walker Educational Center near Pollock.

The conference theme, “Have no fear, JLC is here!” inspired 300 teen leaders from across the state to use their time and talents to become the superheroes of tomorrow.

Conference delegates learned teamwork and communication skills while exploring selected subject matter in six interactive educational tracks, which focused on science, engineering and technology, leadership, agriculture, healthy living, performing arts and outdoor skills.

Get-acquainted games, networking activities, a variety show and a dance are other highlights of the weekend camping event.

The 4-H delegates donated more than 1,000 items to make chemo care kits to support the state 4-H service project: helping children with cancer. Performing arts track members also assembled kits for superhero capes for patients at St. Jude’s Affiliate Clinic at the Children’s Hospital of LSU Health Sciences Center in Shreveport.

The LSU AgCenter sponsors the leadership conference, which is open to students in grades 8 to 12. Teens who serve as officers and representatives on the state 4-H Executive Board planned and conducted the weekend’s activities, said Leslie Moran, AgCenter 4-H specialist.

AgCenter agents and adult volunteers served as mentors, providing guidance and support throughout the planning process and while at camp.

The teen board members are responsible for teaching seven hours of educational tracks by themselves and facilitating all of the activities while at camp, AgCenter 4-H regional coordinator Karen Martin said.

“These teenagers work hard. The teams have worked well together and engaged the youth, and we’re very proud of them,” Martin said.

Southwest regional representative Micah Daggs, of Assumption Parish, assisted with the healthy living track. He said he hoped teens would learn how to choose a healthier lifestyle by making small changes every day through exercise and better nutrition choices.

Hannah Brown, a 4-H Food and Fitness board member who took part in the healthy living track, said she plans to take what she learned back home to teach younger youth how to make healthy snacks.

Brown said she didn’t know a lot of people in her group, but after completing an obstacle course fitness activity, she could see the group starting to connect.

“We were really getting each other, recognizing our strengths and weaknesses, and communicating on a higher level,” she said.

Iberia Parish senior Griffin Landry said he chose the leadership track to sharpen his skills. “I learned more about leadership styles and my own strengths and weaknesses,” he said.

Eugenia Williams said being in leadership is a big responsibility, and it has helped her learn how to take a step back and evaluate each situation calmly. “We did an assessment test, and it opened my eyes and showed me what my leadership styles are,” she said.

More than 160 teens serve on statewide leadership boards targeting leadership, citizenship, food and fitness, fashion, performing arts, shooting sports and science, engineering and technology.

For Connor Arthur, a Sabine Parish shooting sports board member, the outdoor skills track offered more than just an opportunity to get a refresher course on survival skills.

“Getting to see people I don’t see often, that’s priceless. Some of my best friends are in 4-H, so that means a lot to me,” he said.

LaDarrick Smith is a member of the SET board but chose to participate in the ag science track at the conference because of the strong agriculture connection to science, engineering and technology. The track activities and experiments highlighted the role of agriculture in feeding the world now and in the future.

“I take ag in class, and sometimes is hard to understand from reading in textbooks, but seeing and doing hands-on activities, I’m better able to understand it,” Smith said.

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4-H’ers in the ag science track at 4-H Junior Leadership Conference extract DNA from strawberries and discuss the role agriculture plays in feeding the world now and in the future. The conference was held March 9-11 at the LSU AgCenter 4-H Grant Walker Educational Center near Pollock. Photo by Karol Osborne/LSU AgCenter

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Teen leaders participating in the performing arts track at 4-H Junior Leadership Conference prepare colorful T-shirts to assemble in kits for fun superhero capes to benefit children undergoing treatment for cancer. The conference was held March 9-11 at the LSU AgCenter 4-H Grant Walker Educational Center near Pollock. Photo by Karol Osborne/LSU AgCenter

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