May 14, 2002 | By: Haven Miller
LEXINGTON, Ky.

When 4-H officials in Washington, D.C. deliver the final report on the National Conversation on Youth Development this week to U.S. Agriculture Secretary Ann Veneman, ideas contributed by Kentucky's youth will be part of it.

The National Conversation report is the culmination of a series of meetings, or "conversations," involving youth and adults held across the country during 2001-2002. Kentucky's local and state conversations were facilitated by 4-H, and included many other organizations such as FFA, Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, FCCLA, YMCA, YWCA, Beta Clubs and many others.

Early results of Kentucky's statewide Conversation on Youth Development were presented to Gov. Paul Patton at the state capitol rotunda on February 21. A National Conversation held in the nation's capital later that month brought together 1,200 youth and adults to discuss ways of improving urban, suburban, and rural communities nationwide.

"The presentation of the final report to Secretary Veneman may seem like an ending to this huge national effort, but actually it's just the beginning," said Bill Umscheid, director of Kentucky 4-H, which is part of the University of Kentucky's Cooperative Extension Service. "The challenges and ideas outlined in the report will be used by our nation's leaders, including the President and Congress, to develop programs vital to youth and their communities."

Ideas contained in the report include establishing a National Office of Youth, developing programs that celebrate diversity, expanding the use of mentoring and community service programs, providing training and support to expand the quality and number of volunteers serving youth, and maximizing invested resources in youth development by improving coordination among the many youth development organizations.

In addition to presentation of the Conversation final report, 4-H leaders also will present to Secretary Veneman results of the Power of YOUth Pledge Campaign. The campaign is a nationwide drive to encourage youth and adults to volunteer their time in service to local communities. To date, more than 1000 Kentuckians have pledged more than 53,000 hours of service. Nationally, nearly 200,000 people have pledged more than 3 million hours of service.

Kentucky 4-H youth and leaders plan to present a more complete and updated Conversation report to the Governor this coming October during National 4-H Week. This year marks the 100th anniversary of National 4-H.