Pennsylvania 4-H Youth Attend State Leadership Conference

Nearly 600 young people descended on State College, Pennsylvania during the last weekend of January for the Pennsylvania 4-H State Leadership Conference or Junior Leadership Conference, which was assembled by the Pennsylvania 4-H State Council.  The weekend is an opportunity for 4-H’ers to come together for leadership training, networking, and learning experiences.

Lackawanna County 4-H was represented by Camilla Fontini, Clarks Summit, who attended the three-day Leadership Conference.  The five Lackawanna County 4-H members who attended the Junior Leadership Conference were: Meghan Graham, Clarks Summit; Emmy Jones, Factoryville; Nora Evans, Dalton; Emily Bartell, Clarks Summit; and Ava Davis, South Abington Township.

The weekend, themed “LAUNCH:  Leaders All Unite For Necessary Change To Happen,” kicked-off with welcome addresses by the Director of Pennsylvania 4-H Dr. Joshua Rice, Pennsylvania Secretary of Agriculture Russell Redding, State Dairy Princess Yvonne Longenecker, and Alternate Dairy Princess Gretchen Little.  Dauphin County 4-H alumnus Tyler Shaw gave the opening keynote address.

Saturday was a full day of leadership workshops for the 13-18 year old attendees that focused on: goal setting, interview skills, conflict resolution, parliamentary procedure, stress management, and more.

While the older teens were attending these workshops, the Junior Conference convened for the 10-13 year olds.  This one-day version of the larger conference gave younger members a small glimpse into what they can expect to see when they are older.  Workshops like public speaking, dress for success, how to be a club officer, and bullying prevention were presented.

One of the highlights of the Conference was the keynote speakers.

To accompany the space theme of the conference, the juniors were able to take part in a Q&A with Slade Peters, a Test Engineer for NASA.

Both delegations were blessed by the presence of Appiah Boateng, the Director of 4-H Ghana, who spoke about the program in his country and how inspired he was to be able to witness this large leadership event.

During the Saturday keynote, Matt Bellace entertained the older teens with his comedy and message about finding natural highs – those traits that make young people feel empowered to make positive change in their lives and communities.

The event concluded on Sunday with an ode to 4-H service.

Brandon Rumbaugh, a Marine and Pennsylvania native who lost both legs in an IED explosion while deployed, shared his story, which exemplified his leadership, service, and strength to take on what life sends your way.

Delegates were also recognized on Sunday for shoes they had collected for the Pennsylvania 4-H Statewide Service Project, Shoebox Recycling.  To find out more, visit

The Penn State Collegiate 4-H Club thanked the attendees for their donations to benefit 4-H families impacted by Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico.  Collegiate 4-H member, Alondra Valentin, who is from Puerto Rico, talked about the conditions her family, friends, and neighbors are still facing months after the storm.  Ten large boxes of donations from Pennsylvania 4-H’ers, containing hygiene, food, and clothing items, and letters and drawings prepared by the Junior conferences attendees, will be delivered to the 4-H headquarters in Puerto Rico.

Administered in Pennsylvania by Penn State Extension, 4-H is a community of more than six million young people across America who are learning leadership, citizenship and life skills. More information about 4-H can be found online at

Camilla Fontini, Clarks Summit
(Left to right) Meghan Graham, Clarks Summit; Emmy Jones, Factoryville; Nora Evans, Dalton; Emily Bartell, Clarks Summit; and Ava Davis, South Abington Township.

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