Not your typical high school weekend...

Emily Dallas '12 was chosen as one of six delegates to represent New Jersey at the National 4-H Conference in Washington, D.C. last weekend

Whenever I tell people at Peddie that I am a member of 4-H, I usually receive an array of responses such as: "What's that?", "Isn't that a farmer club?" or "I think I went to a 4-H fair once.".

While 4-H did originate as a "farmer club" and many people have probably been to a 4-H fair, this youth organization is so much more than that. In 1902, 4-H did begin as a club for boys to learn how to become better farmers, but now it is a national youth organization which serves 6.5 million young people (age 5-19) in the US as well as many in Canada and Puerto Rico. The goal of  4-H is to develop citizenship, leadership, responsibility and life skills of youth through experiential learning programs and a positive youth development approach.

I have been in 4-H since third grade and am currently the president of both a livestock and a shooting sports club. Because of my many achievements at the county and state level, I was chosen as one of six delegates to the National 4-H Conference in Washington DC last week. There were about 300 other delegates from almost every state and Puerto Rico and Canada. All of us got to choose round table groups, where we spent hours each day researching and preparing for a presentation. My presentation was called "Creating the Next American Scientist" and we focused on promoting hands on learning for youth in order to heighten the innovative spirit that was once a major part of the American way of life, but has recently become less important.
4-H - it's not all about the cows!

While conference delegates presented at various locations around DC, my group happened to present in the White House! We met Dr. John Holdren, Obama's assistant for Science and Technology as well as several other presidential advisers and government officials. Our work made such an impact that we were featured on the White House Blog

Another aspect of the conference was our state trips to Capitol Hill. We met Congressman LoBiondo and the secretary of Congressman Smith as well as Senators Lautenberg and Menendez. The New Jersey delegation was featured on Senator Lautenberg's Facebook page While visiting Capitol Hill, we even happened to be on CNN as we walked through an Obamacare rally to get to our destination.

National 4-H Conference is certainly an experience I will never forget! Now back to making up all the work that I missed during those five days...