In March, delegates from around the state will convene for the 72nd Annual Tennessee 4-H Congress. This year’s Congress will be held at the Embassy Suites Nashville SE in Murfreesboro from March 17-20.
Each year, one of the highlights of Congress is the election of officers. Delegates use voting machines to select their own State 4-H Congress Governor, Speaker of the Senate and Speaker of the House. Installation of the new officers takes place at the final banquet.
The presiding officers are Claire Brooks (Madison County), Chloe Ragland (Van Buren County) and Katherine Ann Thierfelder (Madison County). Each officer was selected by her peers during the 2018 Congress.
Each officer has their own story of what inspired them to run for Congress and what the position means to them.
For Brooks, the Speaker of the Senate, participating in 4-H makes perfect sense.
“4-H is the only competitive club that I have ever participated in that encourages participants to pave the way for others,” says Brooks. “I love encouraging others to succeed right along beside me.”
Ragland, the Speaker of the House, is a big believer of leading by example, which inspired her to run for Congress.
“No one in my county had thought about running for an officer at Congress, so I pushed myself to become the first one in my county and set an example for other 4-H members,” says Ragland.
For Thierfelder, the Governor, a trip to Congress the year before ignited her desire to run for a position and is a direct reflection on any advice she’d give to younger 4-Hers.
“Don’t be afraid to take new opportunities – no matter how scary they may seem,” says Thierfelder. “I first became involved in 4-H when I moved to Jackson. I’ve been homeschooled most of my life and we were looking for extracurricular activities that I could do. That’s when we stumbled upon 4-H and it’s been the best decision I’ve ever made.”
To be eligible for a position, all candidates must be approved by the state 4-H office for membership in the Tennessee 4-H Honor Club and be enrolled in the 9th or 10th grade on Jan. 1 of the current year.
Tennessee Congress delegates play an important role at the state and national levels, and help represent Tennessee 4-H as a whole.