• Teams share their renditions of famous songs at the closing ceremony. Photo by Kellie Seals.
    Teams share their renditions of famous songs at the closing ceremony. Photo by Kellie Seals.

COLUMBIA, Mo. –  In July, 49 high-school-aged youths representing the greater Kansas City area, St. Louis and Clay County experienced the 21st annual 4-H College and Career Pathways Conference at the University of Missouri in Columbia.

The summer conference was a culminating experience for youths in either the 4-H Youth Futures program or Juntos 4-H club during the 2022-2023 school year, said Kellie Seals, Missouri 4-H College and Career Pathways coordinator. Activity and workshop themes included goal-setting, personal finance and career exploration.

Bryan Stephens, a.k.a. Coach BE, from Kid-Grit out of San Bernardino, Calif., kicked off the conference with a self-awareness workshop helping youths identify their personal strengths and weaknesses. Later that evening, attendees experienced a financial simulation created by University of Tennessee called On My Own, available to Missouri 4-H’ers courtesy of BTC Bank.

Participants took a practice ACT test and enjoyed leisure time at the Mizzou Rec Center and Shakespeare’s Pizza. They practiced marketing themselves during mock interviews with professionals in extension and 4-H at the state and national levels.

Interviewers included Tiffany McCullen Atwell, senior vice president for global government relations at Ecolab; Jennifer Sirangelo, CEO of the National 4-H Council; Sarah Traub, MU interim vice chancellor for extension and engagement; Rob Jones, director of integrated marketing communications with MU Extension; Dwayne James, MU Extension community development specialist and director of equity, diversity and inclusion; Stacy Steffens, MU Extension regional director; Tia Stamper, MU Extension recruitment consultant; Noah Washburn, MU Extension state extension and engagement specialist; Emily Furham, senior account manager for the National 4-H Council; and Alison Copeland, University of Missouri deputy chief engagement officer.

Other sessions throughout the week included a mental health and trauma workshop by StreetGeekz, a favorite of the participants, as well as a personal finance course by Melanated Investments out of Kansas City and a college preparedness lesson by Missouri College Advising Corps.

Banquet keynote speaker Claude Harris, founder of College Coaching Network of Kansas City, informed youths how to bust barriers to college. National 4-H Council CEO Jennifer Sirangelo encouraged them to “be dissatisfied, be bold and be generous.”

The closing day of the conference included College 101 workshops by MU Admissions, Financial Aid and student organizations. At the closing ceremony, participants shared their collaborative projects—creative college/career-related music videos in Jesse Wrench Auditorium.

Programs offered by Missouri 4-H would not be possible without support from our partners. Major support for Missouri 4-H Career Pathways programs is provided by the Missouri 4-H Foundation in partnership with the Anthem Foundation, BTC Bank, FCS Financial and National 4-H Council.

Missouri 4-H College and Career Pathways Conference participants attend a mini-career fair geared to their personal interests. Photo by Kellie Seals.
Teams share their renditions of famous songs at the closing ceremony. Photo by Kellie Seals.
Participants congratulate each other at the 4-H College and Career Pathways Banquet. Photo by Amy Kline.