Congressional Award for Youth Ages 14 – 24
by Ami Lin, 4-H youth development agent
I was just at a conference where Dr. Linda Mitchell, Congressional Award Program Chair, presented about the Congressional Award passed into law in 1979 by the United States Congress to recognize young people for their “initiative, service, and achievement.”
It is voluntary and non-competitive — the youth are recognized for achieving goals that they set for themselves. Youth can register at 13.5 years old and they have until age 24 to earn hours.
To celebrate their success, many young people have been invited to Washington, D.C. to be presented their award by their members of Congress. The recipients receive either a bronze, silver, or gold medal which are struck at the U.S. Mint.
As I sat through the presentation, I just kept thinking that our 4-H’ers naturally meet these requirements through their 4-H career. The 4-H program is a great fit and provides the structure and support to accomplish many of the requirements.
Youth will need to set goals and work to achieve them by the age of 24 in these four program areas:
- Voluntary Public Service: Are you a junior leader for a project group? Are you going to volunteer as a camp counselor this year?
- Personal Development: Do you attend project meetings to learn new things? Are you learning new skills through work?
- Physical Fitness: Do you play a sport? How can you set goals around the outdoor activity that you already do?
- Expedition/Exploration: This program area is a bit tricky. You will need to plan and execute a one-time experience where you are driven by your spirit of adventure and discovery. You can travel with others but you have to be the one to plan and execute it!
In addition to investing time for the four program areas, you will need to send in a record book documenting your hours. But, as a 4-H’er you already keep a record book so it's a matter of transferring the appropriate details over and writing up your expedition/exploration. This is a great opportunity for you and will open many doors in your future as well as being fun to do.
If you are interested in pursuing this opportunity, visit Congressional Award to learn how to get started. You do need an advisor but guess what, as a 4-H’er you have a perfect advisor … me! I can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 913-715-7000.