Washington State 4-H Teen Conference returns to WSU Pullman campus

The teen planning committee for the Washington State 4-H Teen Conference pose while holding a WSU cougar flag.
The teen planning committee for the Washington State 4-H Teen Conference.

Washington State University Extension will host the Washington State 4-H Teen Conference at the WSU Pullman campus, June 20-23, 2023.

Headshot of Kelly Stewart.
Kelly Stewart, WSU Extension 4-H Whitman County coordinator.

WSU faculty, staff, outreach specialists, university partners, and educators from across the Pullman community, WSU Extension, and the College of Agricultural, Human, and Natural Resource Sciences will help make this year’s 4-H teen conference a success.

One hundred and fifty teens from every county in Washington state and from tribal Extension have been invited to come together and participate in the conference. Additional youth from WSU GEAR UP (Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs) and the Juntos 4-H programs will also take part.

“We’re excited to welcome these teens, who are coming from all over Washington state, to the home of Extension and WSU,” said Kelly Stewart, WSU Extension 4-H Whitman County coordinator. “Participants will learn about and prepare for higher education and career opportunities and develop critical leadership and life skills.”

For Denise Echelbarger, WSU Extension 4-H development coordinator, peer-to-peer youth leadership is driving the momentum of this year’s conference.

“The youth have spent nearly a year developing this conference’s itinerary,” Echelbarger said.

Headshot of Denise Echelbarger.
Denise Echelbarger, WSU Extension 4-H development coordinator.

As part of the planning process, 4-H youth leaders brainstormed themes and helped plan the overall structure of the conference. Further planning efforts by teen leaders included identifying a theme for the logo, then enlisting a graphic designer to bring their mock-up to life.

The itinerary includes robotics, drone operations for management and mapping, cooking-based classes, livestock physiology, college and career preparation and exploration, 4-H international exchange, and planning for the future and adulthood, among other topics. A full list of workshops and the itinerary are available online.

For the keynote speech, the 4-H teen planning committee identified Greg Sommers from the Core Project, an expert on transformative social-emotional learning, which focuses on building social skills for life after high school.

Other activities include campus tours, team challenges, and a community service project benefiting area Ronald McDonald Houses.

“The line-up of workshops and tours was chosen by the 4-H youth participants, and they also selected the service project, so their interests will be well represented,” Echelbarger said.

Mark Heitstuman, interim director of WSU Extension State 4-H, is excited that youth will once again have the opportunity to explore the Pullman WSU campus, including the Orton Hall dormitory where the youth will be staying, Southside Café for meals, the CAHNRS Student Success and Academic Programs office to get acquainted with majors and fields of study, and Ensminger Pavilion for a celebratory banquet.

“This is such a great opportunity for them to explore all things WSU. They will meet our outstanding faculty, staff, and community, face to face.”

Washington State 4-H Teen Conference logo showing a crane building the words "Building your Future."
4-H teens developed the logo for the Washington State 4-H Teen Conference, then enlisted a graphic designer to make their vision a reality.

Janet Schmidt, Whitman County’s WSU Extension 4-H interim director, is impressed with the youth’s level of leadership she has already seen in the buildup and planning of this event.

“The 4-H teen leaders and 4-H coordinators are pulling off this event in such a way that you can’t help but feel confident in the future stewardship of our state,” Schmidt said.

Media contact

Mark Heitstuman, Interim Director WSU Extension State 4-H, heitstuman@wsu.edu, (509) 243-2009, extension 1601