Local 4-H President Sophia Rodriguez has been selected to attend the National 4-H Conference in Washington from April 9-14.
Rodriguez, a 10th-grader at Bradwell Institute, will join three other 4-Hers from Georgia to represent the state and talk with elected officials.
The National 4-H Conference is an annual meeting where 4-H delegates gather to discuss issues in their states and how to implement initiatives to address those issues.
Kasey Bozeman, 4-H County Extension agent, said in an email that all applicants had to submit a six-page application and essay. Rodriguez was chosen out of 14 statewide finalists who participated in interviews. She was selected based on her 4-H project work, leadership, citizenship, community service and overall 4-H involvement.
“I was interviewed on the stuff that I do in 4-H and the impact I made. I had to address an issue in my community and state a way to solve it,” she said. “So I did the impact of deployment on youth and families and I did an exhibit on that.”
Rodriguez is the military ambassador for 4-H. She is also the Southeast Region 4-H president and participates in a program called “Health Rocks.” Health Rocks is a healthy living initiative that works to inform youth about living a healthy life and the dangers of drugs and tobacco. Rodriguez facilitates club meetings and assemblies and said she tries to engage all the youth in Liberty County and in her district.
Rodriguez feels the delegation representing Georgia is a good group.
“We’re going to talk to our congressman, and we’re just going to represent Georgia and talk about issues that we think we face in our state. We’re going to talk to the other states about their issues and ways that we can help solve ours, theirs and ideas that we have,” she said.
According to the conference website, the delegates will choose an important societal topic and prepare briefings in roundtable groups. During the conference, the groups will present their briefings to federal officials around the Washington area.
Some of the topics Rodriguez and the other delegates are considering discussing at the conference include poverty in rural communities, high school dropout rates, teen pregnancy, childhood obesity, implementing STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) activities into the curriculum, encouraging girls to consider careers in science and engineering fields and restructuring standardized testing.
“We will leave (Washington) with ways that we can face the problems that we talked about and we’ll just implement them in our community and hopefully implement them on a state level,” Rodriguez said.
Finding out that she was selected for the conference was a surprise to Rodriguez. She was backstage at a 4-H conference getting ready to perform with a group called Clovers and Company. She heard people calling her name and thought she was in trouble. She went on-stage and was told that she was selected.
“It was so great. I was so happy and surprised. I totally forgot about it (whether or not she would be selected). I was overjoyed,” she said.
Rodriguez was also given the title of Master 4-H’er. A Master 4-H’er is someone who has won a state competition. This honor can also be achieved through a judging competition or an interview process about an individual’s 4-H work.
“I’m just really excited,” she said. “I’m honored to have this opportunity, and I hope that I represent Georgia well.”