4-H'ers learn leadership skills
Lake County 4-H members Emily DeBolt, left, and Karl Pollock train guide dogs.
More than 700 4-H members gathered in Davis for the annual 4-H State Leadership Conference. Members traveled from all over the state to attend the 3-day event in August.
“One person can make a difference, you can make a difference,” keynote speaker Richard Santana, an educator with a master's degree from Harvard University, told the young people. “Someone taught me that I was worth something and I became willing to change,” said the former gang member.
The conference theme “4-H Is Not a Spectator Sport" was reflected in 21 how-to sessions that will assist 4-H members planning community projects.
“The kids and adults — teams of four or five per county — put together plans of action to impact their communities,” explains conference education chair Rasjidah Franklin, Alameda County youth development advisor. “The plans range from literacy projects and nutrition education to organizing speakouts, where kids' voices can be heard to influence policy. In L.A. County they are starting a co-op for marketing products that didn't sell at the county fair.”
Delegate teams participated in workshops concentrating on citizenship, politics and law; teaching, tutoring and literacy; science and agriculture; communication, visual and performing arts; cross-cultural communication; and health and fitness. New this year were workshops for training adult 4-H volunteers. In all, 98 workshops were offered.
To learn about science and agriculture, some members visited the California Veterinary Diagnostics lab, where researchers demonstrated modern devices for diagnosing illness in animals. At a landscape architecture lab, others learned how engineers and designers develop plans for communities, wildland areas and the spaces in between. Some members collected samples of wildlife and plants along Putah Creek while others toured a local farm and saw how farms can enhance wildlife habitat.
Several headline speakers rounded out the conference program. Robert Corrigan, president of San Francisco State University and chair of President Clinton's “America Reads" initiative, spoke about literacy, learning and community service. Teacher and entrepreneur John Corcoran, who learned to read when he was 48, explained why literacy is important for everyone. Pacific Telesis vice president Marshall Cochrane, who manages a $3.5 billion real estate portfolio, talked about the leadership skills needed today and in the future.