4-H Congress: A 4-H Tradition

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4-H Congress started in the early 1900’s and has a rich history with some traditions that are still evident in the organization today. Today, 4-H blends tradition with youth development programming based on research to meet the needs of youth and families.

NC 4-H Congress is an annual leadership conference that brings together teen 4-H’ers from across the state each summer for a 4-day conference held on the NC State University campus. The annual event has been around since the 1940’s, first known as “4-H Club Week”, and then changed to 4-H Congress in the late 1960’s.

4-H Congress kicks-off with the state presentation contest. Tobias Hullette, Luke Kanupp, Lydia Smith and Lauren Williams earned the opportunity to represent Catawba County in the state presentation contest after being selected as district presentation winners. Lauren Williams, who is 15 years old, gave her presentation on Service Dogs and earned the Bronze award in the Small Animals category. Williams is a member of the Snowy Creek 4-H Equestrians. Lydia Smith, who is 9 years old, earned the Silver Award in the Electric Category. Smith is a member of the 4-H Electric Club. Tobias Hullette with the Livestock Club, was a Gold winner, with his presentation on 3D Printers in Science and Technology. While presentations have been a long-standing part of 4-H, they are still of great value in helping youth build soft skills, such as public speaking and organizing information, that will benefit them as professionals. Presentations are a 5-12 minute speech with visual aids on a variety of topics. Some of today’s popular topics include Science, Technology, Health and Fitness.

Another component of 4-H Congress is the election of state 4-H officers. The election is a democratic process with each county having electoral votes, based on the number of youths reached with 4-H programming in each county. Kat Stulpin, a Catawba County 4-H’er was elected as the state 4-H Secretary-Treasurer. During the 2018-19 year, Stulpin will work with a team of three other state officers to guide the work of the State 4-H Council and also represent NC 4-H in various functions. Stulpin has been involved in 4-H for 10 years. She is the 18-year old daughter or Sue and Bob Stulpin of Catawba County. Another Catawba County 4-H’er, Josh Carter, is also part of the State Council team and serves as the South Central District 4-H Vice President. Carter is 17 years old and has been involved in 4-H for 10 years. He is the son of Amy and Garrett Carter of Maiden. State and district 4-H officers are installed in a traditional candle lighting ceremony on the final evening of NC 4-H Congress each year in Dorton arena on the NC state fairgrounds.

Teens representing Catawba County at NC 4-H Congress were Tobias Hullette, Josh Wilson, Samuel Holdsclaw, Joanna Kanupp, Lauran Surratt, Hope Cable, Kat Sulpin, Lauren Williams, Angela Mason, and Donna Mull, Catawba County 4-H Agent.

4-H Congress reps

Catawba County 4-H’ers attending NC 4-H Congress were (back row, left to right) Tobias Hullette, Josh Carter, Samuel Holdsclaw, Joanna Kanupp, and Lauran Surratt. Front row (left to right): Hope Cable, Kat Stulpin, and Lauren Williams. Not pictured: Angela Mason.