Madison County’s Parker Varnadoe was recently selected to represent Georgia 4-H as a delegate at the 2021 National 4-H Conference.
“I’m honored to represent Georgia,” said Varnadoe, who now has his third Master 4-H/ State Winner title. “I’m excited about meeting new people, connecting with other 4-H members from around the country, and learning how different states do 4-H and bringing back some of those ideas to Georgia.”
4-H leaders said being selected to attend the National 4-H Conference is one of the highest honors a Georgia 4-H’er can earn. Statewide interviewers selected four 4-H’ers to represent Georgia 4-H during this year’s National 4-H Conference, hosted by the National 4-H Council. Leaders said the goals of the conference are to enhance the skills and knowledge of participants so that they can be more effective leaders in their communities, and to share ideas and develop recommendations to guide the future of national 4-H programs.
To be considered as a National 4-H Conference delegate, senior 4-H members submit an online application complete with an essay and 4-H resume. Nine finalists were selected from the applications to take part in the interviews. The four Georgia delegates were selected as from application scores and finalist interviews.
“It is a high honor to be chosen to be a National 4-H Conference delegate,” said Susan Goldman, Varndaoe’s local County Extension Agent.
The United States Secretary of Agriculture, Kevin Shea, is slated to present the welcome and kickstart the event. The virtual conference slated for April 10 – 14 will include Michelle Cummings, a former Kansas 4-H member and founder of Training Wheels, a known leader in the Team Development industry. Delegates will also meet during the weeks leading up to the conference to work on agency briefings, with their collegiate facilitators. Block activities may include ice breakers, briefing work, team building official welcomes and formal presentations.
The plans for this year’s conference will give Varnadoe and other delegates the opportunity to take part in a positive and engaging conference with interactive workshops, fun activities allowing you to connect with one another, and a very special Capitol Hill experience. A special 4-H “Shoutout” program will be a feature of the conference allowing Parker to shoot a video telling his 4-H story which will be shared with attendees, and in Georgia 4-H programs and promotions. Varnadoe will additionally receive an exclusive conference box including curriculum, tips and tools they can use in their local 4-H work, a conference T-shirt and 4-H items.
The conference will bring together youth, volunteer leaders, and state and county extension staff members across the United States, the U.S. territories, and the Canadian provinces.
“It makes me happy and proud to be able to do this,” said Varnadoe. “There’s a lot of 4-H, a lot that goes on but some people think it’s just cows and cookies. It’s definitely not. It helps youth be prepared for the future. We build skills like learning how to overcome obstacles, teamwork, public speaking, community service and resume writing. It makes us well-rounded people. It made me the person I am today.”
Varnadoe, 18, has been an “official” member of Madison County 4-H since he was 9 years of age but his history with the organization goes back even farther.
“My whole family has been involved with 4-H a long time,” said Varnadoe. “I started going to meetings when I was 3 and doing presentations just like I saw the older kids doing. It just sparked my passion.”
Parker is a third generation 4-H’er. His parents, Carl and Cheryl Varnadoe, have been actively involved in 4-H and presently serve as volunteers for Madison County 4-H. They both were honored in the past to serve as chaperones for this special trip.
During his 4-H tenure, Varnadoe has been active in leadership, public speaking, community service, performing arts, communications and technology team, Clovers and Company member, district and state 4-H officer, leading at middle school activities and much more as a certified teen leader. But among all those activities, it’s public speaking this self-described “big people person” is most passionate about.
“I love connecting with others, listening to them, speaking to them,” said Parker. “It’s never scary for me. I just love the sharing and spreading of ideas. I know how to communicate well with others so when I go to 4-H and other events, travel to other states and counties I get asked questions and enjoy sharing about the impact 4-H has had on my life.”
Outside of 4-H, the Hart County High School senior has been active in Madison County and Hart County School Drama/Theatre programs, Thespian, Interact, SkillsUSA and even karate. He’s performed with many area community theatres and has volunteered at Camp Kiwanis.
Varnadoe is also serving as a Georgia 4-H and National 4-H Shooting Sports Ambassador, and has been a member Southern Region Teen Leader Conference Teen Advisory Committee for four years, which, along with all his other 4-H activities, he said, is preparing him for a successful life. Varnadoe is still deciding on his definite career plans, but knows he wants to make a difference in his community and his country in his future career.