• Forty-two Missouri 4-H'ers attended the 2024 Ignite by 4-H conference in Washington, D.C.

COLUMBIA, Mo. – Forty-two Missouri teens recently attended Ignite by 4-H, a four-day conference in Washington, D.C., focused on STEM, agriscience and healthy living.

“As challenges in our communities increase, it is essential to consider young people as a driving force in creating new pathways to create solutions,” said Bethany Rippy, University of Missouri Extension youth health and well-being educator.

Small-group workshops allowed teens to discuss with experienced leaders how the conference topics related to them in their communities, Rippy said. Larger workshops allowed teens to engage with other 4-H’ers from across the United States and gain experience in team-building and leadership. Off-site educational visits with organizations in the D.C. area showed teens day-to-day applications of the knowledge they were gaining.

“A wide-ranging group of speakers with unique experiences shared personal and professional stories that educated and inspired teens to consider career possibilities within these fields,” she said.

Aaliyah Higgs, an attendee from Wayne County, said, “Ignite has given me more inspiration and encouragement to do better and strive for my dreams.”

As teens cultivated knowledge from leaders and fellow teens, they developed plans for projects to improve their communities, called the Lead to Change project, Rippy said. Hannah Henderson, a first-time Ignite attendee, said, “Ignite inspired me to become more hands-on with my community.”

Missouri delegates created a total of three projects to bring home: plans to improve trash, recycling and composting options to promote sustainability; using gardening as a tool for mental health and to combat food insecurity; and developing an organization to provide support for civil rights in experiences with the justice system.

The Missouri conference delegation included Kamari Adams, Mariana Albor, Genesis Alegria, Lilly Allen, Hermione Balderas, Jesse Bueno, Kevin Burks, Keyra Castillo, Brooke Cureton, DJ Douglas, Veya Drew, Gabriel Garcia, Nancy Fernanda Gomez Silva, Karla Gutierrez Campos, Luis Guzman, AJ Hampton, Hannah Henderson, Aaliyah Higgs, Keelan Jackson, Edward Jenkins, Siara Jones, Tommy Jones, Anna Kneir, Jacob Warren-Kneir, Mariana Lopez, Eymi Lopez, Alyssa Mann, Ruby Mateo, Sergio Mendoza, Darius Osborne, Vianca Pascual, Heidi Paz Ruiz, Aleeha Pedigo, Harlan Pedigo, Hope Pedigo, Alexia Saloman, Rhian Stevenson, Solai Swinney, Dylan Tisher, Abbygail Tovar, Dallas Tumbas and Mekhi Willis Howard.

2024 Ignite by 4-H was supported by several organizations, including Walmart Foundation, Bayer, Time for Kids and YouTube.

About Missouri 4-H

Missouri 4-H grows today’s youth and prepares tomorrow’s leaders. With a blend of time-tested traditions and innovative hands-on learning, Missouri youth explore and find their spark in programs ranging from agriculture and conservation to aerospace and career development. Through clubs, programs, camps, in-school and after-school experiences, University of Missouri Extension faculty, staff and thousands of volunteers guide youth in developing essential skills, building confidence and fostering connections. Together, they inspire young people to make a real difference in their communities, their country and the world. To learn more about Missouri 4-H, visit

Media Contact