Editors note: Each county participating in the 4-H Congress was asked to assign the job of reporter to a member of their group and submit an article to their local newspaper.
By Dara Carney-Nedelman
4-H Congress Delegate
There are many activities for students to do during the summer and school year, and 4-H Congress is one of them. This past April, four Unicoi 4-Hers made it closer to politics than they ever had before during State 4-H Congress.
Farris Bailey, Dara Carney-Nedelman, Jacob Ingram, and Adam Larkey got to vote on real bills, meet our local legislatures and representatives, enjoy amazing shows , run for positions in Congress, use a real voting machine and experience life in Tennessees state capital.
Since 1948, 32,900 9th- and 10th-grade 4-Hers and volunteers have been honored to attend State 4-H Congress. About 300 to 400 delegates per year attend to learn about government, citizenship, and leadership. Eligible 4-Hers are invited to attend, and the local 4-H office will send you an invitation.
Mollie Crowder from Johnson County, a 2012 Congress Delegate, agreed to go because, My friend Rachel asked me if I would like to go with her to learn about the legislative branches. The idea of going to 4-H Congress intrigued me.
One of the activities at 4-H Congress was voting on and discussing real bills exactly like our states representatives and senators. This is normally a major part of Congress and many of the delegates enjoy it.
Just as one of last years 4-H Congress delegates, Liz Moughon, said, I really enjoyed hearing everyone elses opinions and being able to vote on bills myself.
The bills we voted on this year had to do with school meal and snack guidelines, punishment of cyber-bullies in high schools, Tennessee Hope Scholarship recipients and commemoration of the 150th Anniversary of the Morrill Act.
While at 4-H Congress, every evening there were remarkable shows performed by our own 4-Hers: The 4-H Performing Arts Troupe, including Unicois own Adam Larkey, and many other amazing performances in the War Memorial Auditorium. Also included were some astounding speakers: Gov. Bill Haslam, who talked about the impact of 4-H; comedienne Lisa Smartt, who gave a speech on life lessons; and many others.
Also occurring in the War Memorial Auditorium were the voting processes of 4-H Congress, where we used real voting machines to elect 4-H Congress legislators. 4-H Congress delegates got a chance to run for speaker of the House (for representatives), speaker of the Senate (for senators), or governor. Two Unicoi students ran for a position: Dara Carney-Nedelman ran for speaker of the House and Adam Larkey ran for speaker of the Senate.
Although neither won, both enjoyed the experience.
Adam Larkey described it as a learning experience which gave him a taste of what it would be like if I ever decided to have a political career.
All of the delegates this year truly enjoyed it.
According to Adam Larkey, 4-H Congress was very memorable.
For 65 years 4-Hers have been experiencing 4-H Congress and hope to for many more years.
It was one of the two highlights of my 4-H experiences says, Stephen Moughon, 2009 delegate, looking back on his high school 4-H experiences. This shows just how much of an impression it really makes.
This years delegates appreciate the generous support of Farm Bureau, Unicoi Ruritan President Aaron McClellan, and NN Ball and Roller who helped make it possible for the delegates to go on this amazing trip.
To the volunteer leader who went on the trip with the delegates kept them out of danger, but still made sure they had fun: thank you, Karen Bailey.
Also, to the 4-H agent who took the delegates to the orientation for 4-H Congress and kept us occupied on the journey, but safe on the road: thank you, Crystal Robertson.
Thank you to the parents who helped the kids pack, drove them to the meeting place, to the UT extension reporter who did a tutorial for the reporters and made this article possible and better, and to the organizers that made 4-H Congress possible and absolutely amazing.