More than 600 teens, volunteer leaders, and Virginia Cooperative Extension agents will attend the 89th annual 4-H State Congress on Virginia Tech's Blacksburg campus from June 15 to 18.

This year’s theme, “Constructing the Future Through 4-H,” aims to motivate 4-H’ers to interact with their local communities through service and leadership.

As Extension’s youth development service, Virginia 4-H engages youth ages 5 to 19 in hands-on educational programs and activities designed to help them gain the knowledge, life skills, and attitudes needed to further their development as self-directing, contributing, productive members of society. Contact your local Extension office for more information about 4-H State Congress and other Virginia 4-H events in your area.

Todd Keene and the Power Team – a group of world-class athletes that has performed the greatest exhibitions of power, strength, speed, inspiration, and motivation – will present at this year’s opening assembly. Consisting of several world-record holders, former National Football League players, and professional wrestlers, the Power Team has been endorsed by more than 50 governors and legislators for its positive contribution to the lives of American families.

At the closing assembly, recent Virginia Tech graduate and motivational speaker Rayna Dubose will talk about priorities in life, determination, and perseverance. In 2001, Dubose began her Hokie career with a full athletic scholarship on the women’s basketball team, but she was struck with a deadly bacterial disease known as meningococcal meningitis the following April.

Dubose spent more than three months in the hospital in a coma with collapsed organs, nonfunctioning kidneys, liver problems, and no blood circulation to her hands. All four of her limbs were amputated. After physical therapy, Dubose returned to Virginia Tech and traveled with the women’s basketball team as a student assistant coach. She has earned several awards for her courage and dedication and has appeared on HBO’s “Real Sports” with Bryant Gumbel and on CBS Sports.

Workshops at this year’s 4-H State Congress will cover animal science, careers and economic education, communication and expressive arts, natural resources and the environment, citizenship, science and technology, and many other topics. Some 4-H delegates will participate in a guided tour of the teaching hospital at the Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine, while others will learn about financial literacy at the money camp or solve the “Mission Mars Challenge” using robots built with LEGO® MINDSTORMS®.

Service-learning projects, such as Operation Military Kids, will allow 4-H delegates to reach out to those in need. Operation Military Kids mobilizes youth around the country to help their friends and classmates who have a parent deployed in the armed forces. This year, all 4-H delegates will bring items for “hero packs” to support military families.

Award competitions give 4-H’ers an opportunity to demonstrate projects they’ve completed, with the winners moving on to regional and national contests. There will also be dances, sporting events, and banquets at 4-H State Congress. As always, 4-H delegates will experience what life might be like as a Virginia Tech student.

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