COLUMBIA, Mo. – As 4-H member Tyler Lappe put his sweat to good use volunteering at the Cedar Creek Therapeutic Riding Center, he was sweating about his chances to become next year’s 4-H president.
By Friday morning Lappe’s wishes were answered as he took the podium in the closing session of this year’s Missouri’s State 4-H Congress earlier this month.
Yet as Lappe shoveled mulch for horse trails for children with disabilities, he reflected on what really kept him involved in the organization. He's spent more than 10 years in 4-H, from his small chapter in Oak Ridge, Mo., to his current involvement as he enters his sophomore year of college at the University of Missouri.
“It’s about the enjoyment and almost family atmosphere that you get from being involved with the state 4-H council,” he said. Lappe has served as a regional representative on the state 4-H council for two years. “It’s satisfying to see in others the passion I’ve felt for 4-H.”
That passion was evident in more than 270 youth who spent three days of learning and fun at the 66th annual State 4-H Congress. Activities ranged from hands-on workshops with a professional chef to service projects, and from a livestock-judging clinic to helping businesses develop marketing aimed at youth and college-aged students.
Bradd Anderson, state 4-H council lead adviser and University of Missouri Extension state youth development specialist, said the state congress helps youth embrace success now and well into adulthood.
“This is where many youth come to learn important life skills, learn leadership and have a lot of fun making peer connections,” Anderson said. “These skills help them be successful now and in the future. When you go into that interview for your dream job, you’ll be glad you had some public speaking skills, learned about how to present yourself and expanded your experiences.
These experiences range from local activities to international programs. Lappe said one of the most exciting opportunities came last year when he stayed with a host family at a dairy farm in Australia.
“I milked cows for three weeks straight and loved every minute of it,” Lappe said. “The youth in Australia were just amazed at what 4-H offers and how many opportunities 4-H gives you through youth leadership.”
As youth returned home from the state 4-H congress, they can put their newfound talents to work in their communities and schools.
“When I go on these trips and then come home, I bring everything I learn back to help me and my community,” Lappe said. “You have to work hard to get these opportunities, but it really pays off in the end.”