COVINGTON — Newton County resident CJ Harris is among the youths recently elected to the Georgia 4-H Council.

Usually, Georgia 4-H fills summer programming with residential camps and statewide events. Due to event restrictions this year, key elements of State 4-H Council normally held at Rock Eagle 4-H Center in June were conducted online to maintain statewide youth engagement.

More than 500 eighth through 12th-grade youths gathered for the annual meeting last year. The focus of this event is to celebrate civic engagement and elect new state officers, one of the top positions a 4-H’er can hold.

This year, 4-H leaders for University of Georgia Cooperative Extension decided to combine all the essential participation elements from State Council into an online series. The four-day series included the campaigns, voting and election of new state officers. The current state 4-H board of directors used the developed leadership skills developed through their term of service to act as the youth facilitators for the weeklong series.

“While things have not gone as we planned this year, we are still celebrating a great program year,” said Arch Smith, state 4-H leader and director. “As I reflect on this group of state officers and their service over the past year, they have been resilient, led with pride and exemplified what Georgia 4-H is all about.”

Youths wishing to run for state office presented a campaign speech and participated in a live Q&A on July 21. More than 650 youth voting delegates from around the state were able to vote virtually in two waves. The first wave selects the top five, at-large candidates that will serve as president, vice president and state representatives. The second wave of voting is a district-level ballot to select four district representatives. All state officers and their titles were announced on July 23.

The 2020-2021 Georgia 4-H State Board of directors members are:

President: Jhaycee Barnes, Spalding County

Vice President: Lily Thomas, Putnam County

State Representative: Cooper Hardy, Pulaski County

State Representative: CJ Harris, Newton County

State Representative: Amare Woods, Tift County

Northeast District Representative: Parker Varnadoe, Madison County

Northwest District Representative: Salih El-Gayyar, Fayette County

Southeast District Representative: Lilah Grace McClintock, Bacon County

Southwest District Representative: Etain Campbell, Pulaski County

“We teach 4-H youth to be resilient,” said Jeffrey Burke, Georgia 4-H events and programs manager. “We’re demonstrating that value by adapting our programming to a virtual format. In this way, we continue to serve and engage youth during the pandemic.”

To view the full online series, visit

Georgia 4-H empowers youth to become leaders by developing necessary life skills, positive relationships and community awareness. As the largest youth leadership organization in the state, 4-H reaches more than 242,000 people annually through the University of Georgia Cooperative Extension offices and 4-H facilities. For more information, visit or contact the local Extension office.

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I have been editor of the Rockdale Citizen since 1996 and editor of the Newton Citizen since it began publication in 2004. I am also currently executive editor of the Clayton News Daily, Henry Daily Herald and Jackson Progress-Argus.

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