About 300 teens, volunteer leaders, and Virginia Cooperative Extension agents will come to Virginia Tech's Blacksburg campus for the 90th annual 4-H State Congress from June 14 to 17.

This year's theme, "Piecing Together the 4-H Puzzle," will empower participants to learn about leadership, citizenship, and life skills.

As Extension's youth development service, Virginia 4-H engages youth ages 5 to 19 in hands-on educational programs and activities designed to help them gain the knowledge, life skills, and attitudes needed to further their development as self-directing, contributing, productive members of society. Contact your local Extension office for more information about 4-H State Congress and other Virginia 4-H activities in your area.

This year, 4-H delegates will increase their knowledge of a variety of topics through practical workshops where they will discover the science behind the operation of a typical dairy farm, turn trash into recycled treasures, rehearse and perform a step routine, learn about interesting career paths in the horticulture industry, or extract DNA from strawberries. They will also have an opportunity to tour the Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine and participate in numerous service opportunities, from helping at a child care center in support of the New River Community Action Head Start program to assisting in the restoration of the New River Valley with Habitat for Humanity.

At the opening assembly, speaker and stage performer Tom DeLuca will present Theater of the Imagination. Nationally renown for his show on hypnosis, DeLuca teaches civic and corporate groups around the nation to harness the power of their imagination.

Not only will 4-H'ers have a chance to compete for awards in dozens of areas, the winners will advance to regional and national contests. There will also be dances and a banquet at 4-H State Congress. New in 2010, focus group discussions will give 4-H delegates basic 4-H State Congress information, a time to reflect on service-learning opportunities, and an explanation of the revamped election process. In addition, the schedule now gives 4-H'ers time to have dinner with other participants from their units and other delegates assigned to the same chaperone.

Virginia 4-H will continue the Congress Heroes program. Through this program, youth share information with corporate and private partners to help generate funds to support Virginia 4-H and to provide an avenue for 4-H'ers to have their congress registration fee sponsored. As always, 4-H delegates will experience what life might be like as a Virginia Tech student. In addition, Virginia Tech representatives will answer questions and promote their programs at a career and college fair for 4-H delegates who are considering college, have already been accepted into college, or are considering employment or other opportunities after high school. Other colleges, universities, and technical schools in Virginia have been invited to participate.

  • University Spotlight on Achievement: "Virginia Cooperative Extension’s 4-H program teaches life skills to more than 150,000 youth"