Georgia 4-H celebrates excellence at 79th annual 4-H State Congress

Aug. 5—ATLANTA — Top 4-Hers from around the state gathered in Atlanta recently to celebrate the 79th annual 4-H State Congress, an event packed with competition and recognition.

State Congress includes the state-level Project Achievement and Leadership in Action contests and acknowledges youth development professionals, supporters and public officials for their contributions to the success of 4-H in Georgia.

Students who place first at state-level competitions in Georgia 4-H earn the title of "Master 4-Her." During State Congress, 204 delegates competed in 50 Project Achievement areas and seven delegates competed in the Leadership in Action contest; one individual from each project area and two Leadership in Action competitors received Master 4-Her status.

More than 48,000 members participated in Project Achievement this year through 4-H programs at the county level. This essential Georgia 4-H program element 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 work force.

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-Hers about their project work.

Venya Gunjal of Cobb County was inducted as 2022-23 Georgia 4-H state president during Georgia 4-H State Congress.

The Leadership in Action competition calls for 4-Hers to identify a community need and work to meet that need by planning and implementing original projects and initiatives. Competitors then prepare an application packet and participate in interviews at the district level. Seven finalists were chosen to be recognized and compete at State Congress: The 2022 Leadership in Action winners are Chanthony Andrews Jr. from Glynn County and Evelyn Day from Houston County.

Andrews hosted a "Sock-tober" drive to collect socks and other necessities for hundreds of people experiencing homelessness in Glynn County. Day partnered with FEMA and the Department of Homeland Security to educate pet owners nationwide about best practices for their pets during national disasters. Other finalists were Jaylee Kilgo from Bartow County, Lilly Ann Smith from Oconee County, Lilly Kate Farrar from Habersham County, Lydia Belfower from Bleckley County, and Rachel Wood from Morgan County.

Georgia 4-H recognizes stakeholders who provide guidance and support to 4-H throughout the year at State Congress.

Courtney Brown, extension specialist for 4-H healthy living programs, received the 2022 Ryles Rising Star Award. This award recognizes an outstanding 4-H staff member in the first five years of their employment for their contributions to the success of 4-H. Brown coordinates all the healthy living initiatives within Georgia 4-H and has improved effectiveness and efficiency in all the programs she oversees, including Cotton Boll and Consumer Judging and myriad food projects.

The Georgia Association of Educational Leaders received the 2022 Friend of 4-H Award. This award is presented annually to organizations or individuals that demonstrate outstanding support of Georgia 4-H with exemplary contributions towards the mission and vision of the program.

Jeff Davis County Extension Coordinator and 4-H Agent Sheila Marchant received the 2022 William H. Booth Award. This award is presented by Georgia EMC and recognizes 4-H agents who have outstanding career achievements and who have a strong commitment to community support. The other district finalists were Brittani K. Lee, Cobb County interim CEC and 4-H agent; Wanda McLocklin, Barrow County CEC and 4-H agent; and Crystal Perry, Sumter County 4-H agent.

Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp and First Lady Marty Kemp received the 2022 Georgia 4-H Green Jacket Award. This prestigious award is presented to individuals who have shown outstanding, significant and ongoing statewide support to the program. The Kemps have been proponents of Georgia 4-H for decades, through legislative funding and hands-on programs such as the First Flock, tours, pet adoption days and activities for youths at the Governor's Mansion. Kemp served as the keynote speaker for the 2022 Georgia 4-H Day at the Capitol.

Leaders in the camping program and 4-H center leadership also received recognition during State Congress. Additionally, members of the 2022-23 Georgia 4-H Board of Directors were inducted into their positions of leadership. The 2021-22 Board of Directors were honored for their year of service. Georgia 4-H also recognized special event winners from the 2021-22 program year.

For more information about Georgia 4-H, contact a UGA Extension office or visit