Teen Attends National 4-H Congress

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Joining a local 4-H club is the first step to getting involved in 4-H, but opportunities extend beyond the club. Lauran Surratt, a 16-year old Hickory student, became involved with 4-H when she was only 8 years old after attending a 4-H program offered at a Hickory Recreation center. That program sparked Lauran’s interest in gardening and she participated in the 4-H Garden club for several years. Through the years, Lauran’s participation in 4-H evolved and she applied the leadership she learned in 4-H by leading a club for younger children at Brown Penn Recreation Center. While Lauran started her 4-H journey by participating in a local club, her 4-H involvement has extended beyond Catawba County.

Lauran was one of fifteen teen 4-H’ers selected from NC to attend National 4-H Congress in Atlanta, Georgia. National 4-H Congress is an annual event that brings together an estimated 1000 4-H’ers from across the nation. During the conference, teens have the chance to participate in leadership and personal development workshops, hear from inspiring keynote speakers, tour historic sites, and participate in Hands-to-Service in the Atlanta area. National Congress allows teens to meet and learn from others also involved in 4-H in other parts of the nation and see how 4-H is similar and different, while improving their leadership skills. According to Lauran, her favorite part of National Congress was Hands-to-Service, which allowed her to volunteer in a music classroom at a downtown Atlanta school. She was able to work alongside other 4-H’ers with an interest in music and share her talent in music with younger students. Another favorite was International Night at National Congress, which let her explore the music, food, and culture of different countries.

Lauran was selected for the national trip as a result of participating in A.R.I.E or Application, Resume, Interview, and Essay. After submitting an application and 4-H resume in May, teens were interviewed by a panel of judges in July during NC 4-H Congress. Being selected for a national 4-H trip through the competitive process is viewed as a top honor in North Carolina 4-H. Each year 75-100 teens compete in ARIE for the chance to be selected for one of three national 4-H trips – National 4-H Congress, National Conference in Washington, DC, and the International Leaders Conference in Michigan. Thanks to support from private donors, the cost for the trips is mostly covered for selected youth.

Lauran is the 16-year old daughter of Collette Surratt and a student at Hickory Career Arts Magnet School. Lauran has participated in 4-H presentations, project work, led 4-H Summer Fun workshops, and attended NC 4-H Congress and State Council Conference. Lauran is also her school representative serving on the Catawba County Youth Council. In addition to 4-H, she has participated in Leadership 2000 through Hickory City Schools, plays multiple instruments with the school band, and works a part-time job.

4-H is a volunteer-led youth program offered through Cooperative Extension for youth ages 5-18. Current 4-H members who are 14 and older can be considered for National 4-H trips by submitting their application packet by May 1. Younger 4-H members can begin building their 4-H resume by actively participating in 4-H by holding club offices, seeking out leadership and volunteer experiences, turning in 4-H project books, and participating in 4-H presentations. 4-H offers many leadership and life-changing experiences for those who first get involved with a local club and invest themselves in opportunities available through the county program. To learn more about joining or starting a 4-H club, contact Donna Mull, 4-H Agent, at 828-465-8240 or donna_mull@ncsu.edu.

Lauran Surratt

Picture – Lauran Surratt, a 16-year old 4-H member, from Catawba County was part of the NC delegation to attend National Congress in Atlanta, Georgia. Surratt was selected to attend based on her outstanding 4-H record and through her participation the Application, Resume, Interview, Essay process. Lauran is pictured at the Coca-Cola museum in Atlanta, which she was able to tour during her National 4-H Congress trip.