Published on 11/11/20

Georgia 4-H youth upcycle trash into practical, useful objects

By Austin Clark

Georgia 4-H students rose to the occasion during the 4-H Upcycle Challenge, which encouraged youth to reuse — or upcycle — materials that normally would have been discarded or recycled to create functional items.

More than 60 entries were submitted to the multistate Upcycle Challenge, which was open to 4-H students in Georgia and neighboring states as part of Georgia 4-H’s Environmental Education program.

Participating 4-H’ers had from Oct. 13 until the final submission deadline of Nov. 3 to create items following guidelines on how their pieces must be built and the amount of non-reused materials allowable.

As a part of their submissions, participants had to send a 10- to 30-second video describing their piece, highlighting the materials they used and the creative inspiration for the item, in addition to photos of their creations. These items were judged on functionality, creativity, innovation and total number of reused materials students were able to incorporate.

Participants were split into three groups for judging — grades two through five, grades six through eight, and grades nine through 12 — with winners and honorable mentions selected for each age group.

This is the first year for the contest, which was sponsored by the Burton 4-H Center on Tybee Island. Burton 4-H staff were inspired to create the contest after the success of a Student Journal Art Contest this past spring.

"I have been very happy with the success," said Erine-Fay McNaught, environmental education coordinator at the Burton 4-H Center. “I am hoping and planning to make both the Student Journal Art Contest and Upcycle Challenge annual offerings to help keep our attending schools and Georgia 4-H’ers connected to our 4-H Center.”

Winners for the 2020 Upcycle Challenge are:

Grades two through five: Owen Aymett, Bell Buckle, Tennessee

Grades six through eight: Nandini Patel, Ben Hill County

Grades nine through 12: Liam Jay, Ben Hill County

A complete list of winners and photos of their projects can be viewed here.

Georgia 4-H empowers youth to become true leaders by developing necessary life skills, positive relationships and community awareness. As the largest youth leadership organization in the state, 4-H reaches more than 242,000 people annually through the University of Georgia Cooperative Extension offices and 4-H facilities. For more information, visit

Austin Clark is a Georgia 4-H public relations associate.

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