Two South Dakotans help run National 4-H Conference

Farm Forum

BROOKINGS – The 10 person National 4-H Conference Leadership Team included two South Dakotans; Michael Sperry, a 4-H member and high school junior from Aberdeen and Peter Nielson, SDSU Extension 4-H Youth Program Director.

“The National 4-H Conference had a little extra South Dakota flavor this year,” said Audrey Rider, SDSU Extension 4-H Youth Leadership Field Specialist. “Peter Nielson and Michael Sperry were selected to run the conference activities with other partnerships from Iowa, Oklahoma, New York, and North Carolina. Their work began last fall and culminated in an eight day leadership trip with almost three hundred delegates from across the nation.”

In addition to Nielson and Sperry, four delegates and one chaperone represented the state at the National Conference held April 6 to 11. The 4-H members were Maggie Tupper and Samantha Sleep from Lawrence County, Whitney Werdel from Meade County and Erin Mairose from Brule County.

During the National 4-H Conference more than 270 youth and adults representing 4-H programs across the country gathered to exchange ideas, gain knowledge to share back at home and develop recommendations to help guide the future of 4-H programs nationally and in their communities.

Through various conference sessions and facilitated discussions, delegates learned and shared information on current trends and issues relevant to 4-H and youth, building effective partnerships, creating innovative 4-H programs, expanding the use of technology, working with diverse groups, and impacting community needs. At the completion of roundtable discussions, delegates gave presentations to federal agencies to recommend innovative change and represent youth voice.

Delegates also had the opportunity to spend some time on Capitol Hill and meet with Rep. Kristi Noem, Sen. John Thune and Sen. Tim Johnson to discuss state 4-H programs.

The National 4-H Conference dates back to 1927 when the first “National 4-H Club Camp” was held on the grounds of the National Mall in front of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Known as the “Secretary’s Conference,” National 4-H Conference continues to be USDA’s premier youth development event. More information about the National 4-H Conference can be found at

For more information on the 4-H program in your county, please contact your local SDSU Extension 4-H Youth Advisor or Audrey Rider, 4-H Youth Leadership Field Specialist at