State 4-H Ambassadors Get Engaged - with the Federal Government in Washington

July 21, 2023

Three Arizona teens attended the National 4-H Conference, where they connected with officials from the Pentagon, U.S. Congress, and Peace Corps.

Photo of 4-H youth at Washington Monument

4-H Program Coordinator Nataly Uribe (from left), Civic Engagement Ambassador Santiago Calleros, STEM Ambassador Isaac Chapman, and Agricultural Ambaassadfor Cori McGibbon, attended the 20234 National 4-H Conference in Washington, D.C.

Photo courtesy of Nataly Uribe

Cooperative Extension 4-H programs offer youth many opportunities for civic engagement, and the National 4-H Conference allows teens to take that involvement to the very heart of American civic life – Washington, D.C.

The annual conference, sponsored since 1927 by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture, brings together 4-H members, volunteers, Extension staff, land-grant university faculty, and state and federal government officials to help kids talk to their federal government.

“The purpose of the national conference is to get the youth voices out there to advocate for themselves,” said 4-H Program Coordinator Nataly Uribe, who chaperoned an Arizona delegation at the conference. “Each group had a topic that they then got to present to different entities, parts of the U.S. government.”

4H logo

Arizona sent three statewide ambassadors to the 2023 conference: Agriculture Ambassador Cora McGibbon, 17, from Pima County; STEM Ambassador Isaac Chapman, 17, from Yuma County; and Civic Engagement Ambassador Santiago Calleros, 18, of Maricopa County. Healthy Living Ambassador Aniza Bejarano, of Pima County, did not attend the conference.

McGibbon, a Salpointe Catholic High School graduate who plans to study agricultural economics and business at New Mexico State University this fall, visited the Pentagon to show what 4-H offers youth whose parents are in the military.

Calleros’ met with Peace Corps staff to suggest a way to help students who are studying abroad work with the Peace Corps for credit, and Chapman’s group met with U.S. Reps. Jim Baird, R-Ind., and Mike Bost, R-Ill., to explain what 4-H offers to all youth.

“You get to meet new people. You get to experience new things,” said Chapman, who will be a senior at Yuma’s Cebola High School this fall. Next year, he plans to study agriculture at University of Arizona.

The conference gave Calleros much more than exposure to government, he said.

“I think what I get out of all these trips is confidence, confidence in our youth, especially 4-H youth. We are going places. We are taking action, and just to go to these national events and be heard by the government, it really gave me a lot of confidence that our future is in really good hands,” said the recent graduate of Great Hearts Anthem in Phoenix.

Calleros plans to attend Grand Canyon University this fall to study entrepreneurship and marketing.

Ultimately, 4-H and the national conference are about people, and the connections made at gatherings like the national conference can last much longer than the week the 4-Hers are there.

“I believe connections are everything. We still have friends in Idaho that I stay in touch with all the time,” McGibbon said.

The 2024 National 4-H Conference is set for April 19-24 in Arlington, Virginia. The National Institute of Food and Agriculture is looking for teens (age 15-19) and adults to serve in leadership positions during the conference.

See the U.S. Department of Agriculture website for information or to apply. The deadline for leadership applications is August 30. If you have questions, email