Pictured above: Roberta Burns ’17 (left) presenting at the Department of Housing and Urban Development during the 2015 National 4-H Conference.
Roberta Burns ’17, a Business Administration, Business Communication, and Event Planning major from Monroe City, MO, was selected as a delegate to attend the National 4-H Conference in Washington, D.C. this past April.
Read Roberta’s recap of the National Conference below.
4-H is an organization with the mission of engaging youth to reach their fullest potential while advancing the field of youth development. 4-H is for all youth, wherever they live – on farms, in suburbs, in cities and serves youth from all backgrounds and interests. It reaches those with interests ranging from cake decorating to raising dairy goats and from aerospace to sewing. 4-H encourages the development of professional skills through presentations, speeches, and interviews to prepare 4-H’ers for life after the program. Opportunities to travel all over the country for competitions and national meetings await each 4-H’er as recognition of leadership and dedication to the 4-H program.
National Conference is the annual premiere national civic engagement opportunity for 4-H members across the country. Delegates not only learn while at the conference, but also have the opportunity to practice and apply in a real world setting their newly developed and refined skills. Missouri sent three delegates to experience Washington, DC and to engage with the federal government.
To win the trip, Missouri requires interested 4-H’ers to answer essay questions about citizenship as well as create a video PSA about current issues such as distracted driving, homelessness, the future of agriculture, and drug/alcohol abuse.
I was thrilled when I was accepted! Most 4-H’ers end their 4-H career when they graduate from high school, so to have the opportunity to extend my involvement in the 4-H program was extremely meaningful to me. I also love DC, so being able to visit the city again and engage with different departments than I had on my visits before really excited me.I knew that I’d be presenting to a federal department, but I doubted that my voice would really be heard. During the conference, I was blown away with the creative solutions and critiques my peers came up with.
I researched three of poverty initiatives that the Department of Housing and Urban Development has created – Project SOAR, My Brother’s Keeper, and Promise Zones. Along with my 10 other group members, we made recommendations for changes to these programs to improve scope, effectiveness, and efficiency. After working on presentations for two days, we had a briefing meeting with the leaders of HUD and specifically those who spearheaded the initiatives. We were able to critique the programs and offer a youth perspective on their efforts. Leaders from HUD also attended the meeting to ask questions about other housing issues that they felt needed solutions from young critical thinkers. We also got to spend an entire day on Capitol Hill and meet with congressman and senators from Missouri.
My favorite part of the trip was how interested the Department of Housing and Urban Development leaders were in our ideas. They genuinely cared about solutions we came up with and the betterment of poverty initiatives they had started. After the conference, I felt truly empowered and that my voice could actually make a difference. By having these types of conferences, high school and college aged students all across the country are becoming more engaged citizens and realizing that they can play a huge role in bringing about positive change.
This summer, Roberta plans to work as an intern at ALDI. After she graduates from Westminster, she would like to pursue a career with ALDI, eventually working in their Corporate Buying Sector.