Carroll teen to help plan 4-H National Congress

January 12, 1994|By Amy L. Miller | Amy L. Miller,Staff Writer

When teens throughout the nation attend the 73rd 4-H National Congress next December, they'll all be witnessing Heather Hull's handiwork.

Ms. Hull, 18, of Westminster, has been appointed youth co-chairman of the 4-H National Congress program committee for 1994. In 1995, she will be promoted to committee chairwoman.

"I'm thrilled and a little flabbergasted," said Ms. Hull, a 1993 graduate of Westminster High School. "It's a huge responsibility."

Her duties will include helping to plan the next 4-H Congress, to be held for the first time in Orlando, Fla., and choosing six youth advisers for the convention from nationwide applicants.

Ms. Hull was a youth adviser last year after attending 4-H National Congress in 1992 and winning the Presidential Tray, the organization's highest honor at that time.

"Congress has a tradition, a strong tradition," Ms. Hull said of the event, which gathers outstanding 4-H'ers from across the country each year. Since its inception, the National Congress has been held in Chicago.

"A lot of people are wary of the new location," she said. "I feel I can help dispel the myth that change is a bad thing and show that maybe we need this, to get that overall spirit that will make the 73rd Congress one of the greatest."

Ms. Hull said participants this year will be going to Buena Vista Plaza, which is on the Disney property but not part of that resort. Based on her involvement in this year's Congress, she also expects the planning group to come up with some pleasant surprises for the participants.

"Last year, they told us to dream big," Ms. Hull said of the 4-H adult leadership. "They told us, whoever you want, we will try to get them here."

At first, the teens wanted to book Garth Brooks for a concert, she said.

"We found out that he was on tour during that time, but we went through the steps," Ms. Hull said. "We made that effort to try and get him."

The youth leaders also are trying to find ways for teens to interact more with the convention's corporate sponsors, she said.

"This is a way for them to make contacts in the business world and get future careers under way," said Ms. Hull, noting that most 4-H'ers are from rural or suburban areas. "We are trying to get the kids out to see what is going on."

National adult leaders also are trying to expand the leadership roles and participation within National Congress, said Sheila Chaconis, head of the 4-H Educational Incentive Division.

Participants this year will be chosen by their respective states, she said, and will submit resumes rather than record books of their achievements in projects. Organizers hope this will help them include more minorities and students who joined 4-H as teen-agers.

"Many of them have been in 4-H since they were young," Ms. Chaconis said. "But what about the teen who has been in for two years, but has had as much or more growth?"

Congress programs will focus on skills to help teens enter the job market, Ms. Chaconis said, and the application resume format "will teach them skills they can use in the work force."

Adult leaders are trying to set up shadow programs, in which teens can follow Orlando business people in their jobs for a few hours.

The youth chairmanships, like Ms. Hull's, were created last year amid other changes to the Congress program, she said.

Each youth, paired with an adult adviser, is encouraged to make suggestions for the Congress and take much of the organizational responsibility.

Ms. Hull was chosen as a national adviser from 27 videotaped entries the national council received in early 1993, Ms. Chaconis said.

She was chosen to be co-chairwoman based on her work at last year's Congress.

"Her leadership skills really came across as the best of the six, along with her maturity level and her willingness to take on additional responsibilities," Ms. Chaconis said.

In addition to taking a strong leadership role at the Congress this winter, Ms. Hull participated in all of the monthly conference calls to prepare for the event, each of which lasted from two to three hours, Ms. Chaconis said.

During the Congress, she chaired the committee that produced a newsletter for participants, contacted speakers and guests, and negotiated their fees, Ms. Chaconis said.

"She will go the extra mile to make sure something is done correctly," Ms. Chaconis said. "She really helps drive the committee leadership, and even makes sure the adults are doing what they're supposed to be doing."

As a double major in agriculture and public relations at the University of Maryland College Park, Ms. Hull said she'd eventually like to work with 4-H on a national level. Her appointment brings her one step closer to that goal.

"This will help me get my foot in the door with the national council," she said. "It's very exciting for me, getting a free trip to Orlando for two years. But it's also a job."

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