Members from 4-H clubs in 18 states recently participated in the 4-H Family and Consumer Sciences, FCS, National Championship and Conference held in San Antonio.
Previously held in Denver, this was the first time the event was presented in Texas and hosted by Texas 4-H. The event, which ran from Jan. 10-13, was held at the downtown La Quinta Riverwalk.
The event was open to 4-H members 14-19 years old who won their state-level competition and advanced to the national level. Over the four-day period, about 250 people, including 4-H youth, county extension agents, parents and coaches from throughout the U.S., attended the event.
About the championship and conference
“The championship and conference provides a place for youth to participate and compete in intentional learning experiences through educational activities and sessions,” said Montza Williams, Ph.D., Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service state 4-H program director, Bryan-College Station. The Texas 4-H program is administered by AgriLife Extension, an educational outreach agency of Texas A&M AgriLife.
Project areas for this year’s competitions included food and nutrition, health and wellness, personal and family finance, textiles and apparel, interior design, and education and training. The event also included educational presentations on family and consumer sciences-related topics given by instructors from AgriLife Extension and the University of the Incarnate Word.
Angela McCorkle, AgriLife Extension program specialist and event coordinator, Bryan-College Station, said family and consumer sciences areas of 4-H combine experiential and hands-on education with positive youth development, helping youth develop important life skills.
“Along with more traditional topics, educational presentations also addressed other important issues such as stress management and maintaining mental health and how making buying decisions about clothing may impact the environment,” McCorkle said.
Event competitions in family and consumer sciences
This year’s event included competitions in consumer decision-making and fashion as well as a skill-a-thon and family and consumer sciences quiz bowl.
“These competitions give participants the chance to learn and to engage in friendly contests that are designed to be fun and help them develop skills they can apply in the real world and that will serve them for a lifetime,” McCorkle said.
For the consumer decision-making contest, contestants were asked to evaluate and assess personal and household items for their features, quality and value. Some items evaluated included athletic wear, sheets, appliances, carry-on luggage, dental products, event venues, invitation designs, fast food meals, ground transportation, lighting, subscription shopping and wearable technology.
This year, Tennessee Senior-High A received the first-place team score in the Consumer Decision Making Contest, with Texas Senior-High A team placing third. Emma Gullicks of North Dakota achieved the high individual score and Texas team members Macy McDaniel, Robert Miller II and Klaybourne Eschberger, all of Milam County, placed in the top 10.
At the Fashion Revue contest, contestants modeled the apparel they created or purchased and were judged on their presentation skills, knowledge of their outfit, modeling and the appearance of the outfit or garment. They also responded to judges’ questions about various aspects of the fashion industry or their garment.
The winner of this year’s Fashion Revue’s Purchased contest was Texas 4-H’er Gabriela Ramirez, Hidalgo County, with Shye Havelka of Bandera County placing second. The overall winner in the Construction contest was Lily Quiles of California, with Sara Gibbs of Texas placing third.
In the educational presentation contest, participants must select home economics or family and consumer sciences subject matter and provide a 10–15-minute presentation.
Texas grabbed first and second place in the Educational Presentations contest. Riley Wallis, Wharton County, placed first with “You Eat With Your Eyes First: Why Knife Cuts Are Important,” and Sophia Sexton, Parker County, placed second with “4 Steps to a MyPlate Lifestyle.”
For the Skill-a-Thon and Quiz Bowl contests, participants identified and answered questions about items and materials used in cooking, housing, interior design, sewing, clothes-making and other family and consumer-related topics. Skill-a-thon participants also completed a life skills assessment and presented their answers to a panel of judges.
This year’s high-scoring individual in the Skill-A-Thon contest was Maggie Gregory of Oklahoma. The Life Skills Assessment Team Award went to the Georgia team, and Texas placed third. The overall team award went to the Oklahoma team and Texas placed fifth.
This year’s overall individual Quiz Bowl contest winner was Kirsten Boley of Utah, with Olivia Callagher of Texas placing second and Audrey Rathgeb of Texas placing fourth. The overall winning team was the Texas team consisting of Collin County 4-H’ers Olivia Callagher, Kathrin Esposito, Audrey Rathgeb and Lucie Rathgeb.
Benefit to competition and conference participants
Sara Jolianne Gibbs, a 10-year 4-H member with Red River County 4-H in Texas, participated in the fashion revue, modeling an outfit she created using sewing skills she honed through her involvement in 4-H.
“I enjoy fashion, and 4-H has given me the opportunity to learn about it through a number of projects,” she said. “I’ve also been involved in public speaking, the 4-H Food Challenge, livestock judging and Duds to Dazzle.”
Gibbs, who is home-schooled, said 4-H also allows her to socialize with others her age and with similar interests.
“I’ve been able to develop my teamwork and leadership skills,” she said.
Karsten Johansen, a member of the 4-H Needle and Thread Sewing Club of Tillamook County, Oregon, a six-year 4-H member, was one of several young men participating in the event. Johansen said while his primary interests are sewing and canning, he has also been introduced to many other useful skills through 4-H.
“I have learned a number of life skills through 4-H, including public speaking and how to make informed decisions about buying household items,” he said. “I’ve also learned a lot about event planning,”
Johansen said attending the event gave him an opportunity to meet other 4-H’ers from different states and get a new perspective on how things are done in other 4-H programs.
4-H service project: Quilts of Valor
“The 4-H organization also stresses the importance of community service and giving back to others,” said Natalie Cervantes, AgriLife Extension District 10 4-H and youth development specialist, Uvalde. Cervantes coordinated the Quilts of Valor project at this year’s national competition and conference as part of a nationwide service effort.
Quilts of Valor is a volunteer-driven nonprofit organization that provides patriotically themed quilts stitched by volunteers to active duty and veteran service members as a token of appreciation for their service. The organization is sponsored by local businesses, civic clubs and individuals, but quilts are fashioned by volunteers around the U.S. and internationally.
“Many 4-H clubs in the U.S. are involved in this effort, but Texas 4-H has been designated as the organization’s Under Our Wings coordinator for the state,” Cervantes said. “Youth involved in the Quilts of Valor effort learn important life skills like sewing, but the project also gives them an opportunity to learn about history and to show their regard for the sacrifices made by those who serve their country.”
During the conference, 29 quilt squares were completed and will be assembled into a quilt to be donated to a current or former service member in the San Antonio area. Since September, Texas 4-H members have provided 16 quilts.
More than 360,000 quilts made by Quilts of Valor volunteers have been given to service members throughout the nation since the service project began.