The Congressional Award Gold Medal Ceremony recognized 518 young people across 42 states for their commitment to bettering themselves and the communities around them. As the pinnacle award of the program, Gold Medalists have committed themselves to at least two years to goal setting and community involvement. To earn the award, participant must log a minimum of 400 hours of Voluntary Public Service, 200 hours of Personal Development, 200 hours of Physical Fitness, and a five-day, four-night Expedition/Exploration. The program is non-partisan, voluntary, and non-competitive. Young people may register when they turn 13 1/2 years old and must complete their activities by their 24th birthday. Participants earn Bronze, Silver, and Gold Congressional Award Certificates and Bronze, Silver, and Gold Congressional Award Medals. Participants move at their own pace – on their own or with friends. The Congressional Award program strives to bring opportunities for advancement to youth across the nation.  Over the past year, we have seen our participants rise to the challenge of the United States Congress and serve their communities despite some of the most isolating and difficult times our country has seen.

This year, recipients of The Congressional Award Gold Medal – the U.S. Congress highest honor for youth from Independence County and Arkansas’ 1st Congressional District are Keylee Harris from the Diamond T 4-H Club, Daniel Latus, Batesville 4-H Club and Elsa Timbs, Diamond T 4-H Club. Keylee Harris for her community service project sewed over 900 masks for the community and quilted blankets for the local nursing home. Keylee says “I gained a greater appreciation for the volume of people I reached by sewing mask and quits”.  Daniel Latus for his Physical Fitness program trained most day for three to four hours on running, biking, swimming, and weight training to get himself physically fit. Daniel said he learned “how to gain physical strength and prepare himself for competing in swim competitions and triathlons”.  Elsa Timbs for her personal development program trained and became MyPI (My Preparedness Initia­tive) certified. She learned many medical techniques, CPR certified, Fire Safety and conducted a community service project. Elsa said, “she was able to learn basic life support, triage, how to stop major bleeding and how to monitor vitals”. 

Harris, Latus and Timbs were recognized in a virtual event which included interactive workshops on a range of topics including mental health, financial literacy, STEM, entrepreneurship, and professional development. These workshops allowed the medalists to hear from Members of Congress and experts on the topics of their choosing, then participate in live breakout groups to dive in a little further and meet their fellow Congressional Awardees. While the range of topics is diverse, each session was focus on the bright futures ahead in their respective spaces.  If you are interested in joining a 4-H Club, call the Extension Office at 870-793-8840.