Georgia 4-H celebrated top 4-H’ers from around the state during the 80th annual 4-H State Congress in Atlanta July 18 to 21.
State Congress features the state-level Project Achievement and Leadership in Action contests as well as recognition of youth development professionals, supporters and public officials for their contributions to the success of 4-H in Georgia.
More than 200 delegates competed in 50 Project Achievement areas and eight delegates competed in the Leadership in Action contest during State Congress. The high-scoring individual from each project area and two Leadership in Action competitors received Master 4-H’er status. Special event Master 4-H’ers from the 2022-23 program year were also recognized at State Congress.
More than 62,000 youth participated in Project Achievement last year through 4-H programs at the county level. This essential Georgia 4-H program empowers young people with leadership, creativity, public speaking and record-keeping skills that will last a lifetime.
At the high school level, students choose a project of interest from a list of areas that include agriculture, human development, performing arts, communication, engineering and workforce preparation. They subsequently research the topic, create a detailed presentation, and participate in related community service and civic engagement activities. The State Congress competition also includes individual interviews with qualified professionals who engage with 4-H’ers about their project work.
Leadership in Action
The Leadership in Action competition calls for 4-H’ers to identify a community need and work to meet it by planning and implementing original projects and initiatives. Competitors then prepare an application packet and participate in interviews at the district level.
The 2023 Leadership in Action winners are Amiyah Elam from Ware County and Jack Wurst from Columbia County.
Elam founded a community organization for young girls called “I Am” that seeks to empower participants with tools to overcome challenging circumstances. Wurst started a project called “Celebration Cakes” that provides community members with no-cost cake-baking kits to encourage family baking and human connection.
Other finalists were Lilly Kate Farrar from Habersham County, Venya Gunjal from Cobb County, Thomas Holt from Ben Hill County, Coleman Mangham from Tift County, Aubrianna Stewart from Bryan County and Winta Ykeallo from Spalding County.
Georgia 4-H Awards
Georgia 4-H recognizes stakeholders who provide guidance and support to Georgia 4-H throughout the year at State Congress.
Rachel Frisbie, University of Georgia Cooperative Extension 4-H agent in Monroe County, received the Ryles Rising Star Award. The Ryles Rising Star Award was established in 2010 when Bo Ryles retired from his role as Georgia's state 4-H leader. This special award recognizes an outstanding 4-H staff member in the first five years of their employment for outstanding contributions to the success of 4-H. Frisbie has increased Monroe County 4-H participation by more than 520% in just over one year. She leads 40 in-school programs and has established comprehensive opportunities for all 4-H youth, including a brand-new Outdoor Adventure Club. Frisbie is dedicated to improving the lives of Monroe County youth and their families.
Gary Black, former Georgia commissioner of agriculture, received the Friend of 4-H Award. The Friend of 4-H Award is presented annually to individuals and organizations that demonstrate outstanding and exemplary contributions to the Georgia 4-H vision and mission. Black’s early career was spent developing leaders in Georgia Farm Bureau’s Young Farmers’ program, he was selected to lead the Georgia Agribusiness Council, and he was elected to fulfill the role of Georgia agriculture commissioner in 2010. He is committed to youth development and provides leadership opportunities to youth. He and his wife, Lydia, host state 4-H officers for dinner and “leadership lessons” at the beginning of each officer term.
Black is the visionary behind the Baby Barn at the Georgia National Fair that uses 4-H and FFA members to educate the public about the livestock industry.
He also helped create the Legislative Livestock Showdown, an opportunity for sitting state House and Senate members to pair with youth livestock exhibitors. The friendly competition provides an experience for legislators to learn more about the livestock industry firsthand from 4-H and FFA youth exhibitors. Black continues to champion opportunities for 4-H’ers and their communities to make the best better.
State Rep. Rick Jasperse received the 4-H Green Jacket Award. The prestigious Georgia 4-H Green Jacket is awarded to individuals who have shown outstanding, significant and ongoing statewide support to 4-H. Rep. Jasperse began his career with UGA Extension and spent 29 years as the Pickens County Extension agent. He and his wife Marcia raised their three children in 4-H and each of them eventually served as 4-H summer camp counselors.
In 2010, Rep. Jasperse was elected to the Georgia House of Representatives for the 11th district, which includes parts of Gordon and Murray counties and all of Pickens County. He currently serves as the chairman of the Transportation Committee and sits on many others.
Rep. Jasperse has been an advocate for legislation and funding for UGA, the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences and Georgia 4-H. He has served as the Georgia House of Representatives host for 4-H Day at the Capitol for many years and takes time each year to speak to the 4-H delegation at the Capitol, inspiring them to actively participate in the civic process.
During the 2021-22 legislative session, he co-authored a bill stating that a student who participates in an activity or program sponsored by 4-H shall be credited as present by the school in the same manner as an educational field trip.
Rep. Jasperse is committed to the mission of Georgia 4-H and the spirit of the Green Jacket Award, which is sponsored by the Georgia Electric Membership Corporation (Georgia EMC).
Cindy Meadows, Seminole County 4-H agent and county Extension coordinator, received the William H. Booth Award at the 4-H Annual Banquet. This award recognizes 4-H Extension agents for outstanding career achievements and a strong commitment to community support.
Meadows has served the Seminole County community for 23 years. Since becoming the 4-H agent in 2000, Seminole County has had 20 district and state 4-H officers, 44 State Congress delegates, and 1,000 members participating in 4-H judging teams. She has secured, managed and supported funding for 4-H programming totaling more than $160,000.
Meadows works diligently to coordinate community resources to benefit local youth. The William H. Booth Award is presented in conjunction with the Georgia Association of Extension 4-H Youth Development Professionals and the Georgia EMC.
Additional William H. Booth Award finalists were Brittany Teets from Rockdale County, Jakyn Tyson from Emanuel County and Susan Yearwood from Stephens County.
4-H Board of Directors
The new members of the Georgia 4-H Board of Directors were inducted at State Congress. Officers for 2023-24 include President Thomas Holt from Ben Hill County; Vice President Brittany Bryant from Toombs County; State Reps. Hoke Lucas from Oconee County, Tiffani McClain from Jasper County and Sharandon Gay from Clinch County; Northeast District Rep. Jack Wurst from Columbia County; Northwest District Rep. Naomi Jackson from Bibb County; Southeast District Rep. Amiyah Elam from Ware County; and Southwest District Rep. Allie Braddy from Ben Hill County. Members of the 2022-23 Board of Directors were honored for their year of service.
State Congress is made possible by sponsors including Georgia’s EMC, Georgia Power, the Georgia 4-H Foundation and the Georgia Master 4-H Club. Pillar Sponsors for the event include Harley Langdale Jr. Foundation Inc., Premium Peanut and Kelly Loeffler.
Georgia 4-H empowers youth to become true leaders by developing necessary life skills, positive relationships and community awareness. As the premier youth leadership organization in the state, 4-H reaches hundreds of thousands of people annually through UGA Extension offices and 4-H facilities.
For more information about Georgia 4-H, contact your local UGA Extension office or visit georgia4h.org.