A Columbia County teen was one of 47 state winners honored in Atlanta at the 60th annual State 4-H Congress recently.
Jennifer O'Neal of Martinez was awarded a trip to the National 4-H Congress November 29-December 3 in Atlanta, where Georgia 4-H'ers will host 4-H'ers from around the nation.
Ms. O'Neal, daughter of Barry and Susan O'Neal, won in the category of fruits, vegetables and nuts and was sponsored by the Griffin Corporation.
"In a year of crisis in our nation, this group of young people reminds us that for 100 years, 4-H has helped America train its leaders of tomorrow," Roger (Bo) Ryles, state 4-H program leader with the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, said.
"State 4-H Congress brings the best of the best together," Ryles said. "The young people here have already distinguished themselves as leaders and winners. 4-H Congress provides us a showcase for their accomplishments as well as a chance to thank those who make 4-H successful through their donations of time and resources."
Following Tuesday's competition, the 4-H'ers toured metro Atlanta, meeting with donors, state legislators and corporate leaders. The Congress ended with a banquet honoring the state winners.
"Too often, we as a society focus on negative actions of youths," Ryles said. "State 4-H Congress is an opportunity to see youths involved in positive experiences, showcasing their leadership accomplishments, communications skills, community service and education."
State Congress is the culmination of a year's work in a 4-H project. 4-H'ers prepare a portfolio of their project work, participate in an interview about their portfolio and give an oral presentation for the statewide competition. The participants compete in 46 project areas including public speaking, performing arts, conservation, computers, horticulture an human development.
Other state winners recognized at the Congress participated in team competitions and leadership projects throughout the year. Ryles said these 4-H'ers didn't make it to State Congress on their own.
"Every 4-H'er is part of a partnership," he said.
The partnership includes parents, UGA faculty and community donors.
"We had 129 experts donate their time this week to judge this competition," Ryles said. "Many more give their time throughout the year to help make the outstanding positive experience it is for more than 164,000 Georgia youths."
4-H celebrates its centennial year this year, showing the club's ability to develop from its agricultural roots in rural America, to remain relevant and challenging to today's young citizens. Georgia 4-H is the youth education component of the UGA College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.
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