Born with autism, 19-year-old Christopher Morgan didn’t speak until he was 4 years old. Today, Morgan is one of 47 Georgia 4-H members who earned the coveted title of “Master 4-H’er” at the annual Georgia 4-H State Congress, held July 26-28 in Atlanta. State Congress symbolizes the end of a year of hard work and dedication by Georgia 4-H youths. Students select an area of study, give an oral presentation before judges at their respective District Project Achievement (DPA) and participate in service and leadership events in their communities. Regional first place winners compete at the state competition in a variety of categories including history, horses, performing arts, and public speaking. Each student gives a 12-minute presentation before expert judges and prepares a portfolio detailing their research, leadership and service projects.“It’s a great way to make you learn more about what you love to do in life. It also teaches you life skills you will need to use throughout your life,” said Morgan of Warner Robins, Georgia. “For me, District Project Achievement changed my life by helping me win the battle against my autism. I couldn’t talk until I was 4 years old, and when I finally was able to talk, I took 12 years of speech therapy to improve my public speaking skills.”Morgan credits his speeches on photography and videography — his passions — for helping him “win the battle” against autism. “Ever since [I first won second place in DPA], I’ve been confident in doing all the things that were once impossible for me to do,” he said.Many 4-H members, like Joe Waters of Glennville, Georgia, learned leadership skills by serving as teen leaders to younger 4-H members at Cloverleaf 4-H’er camps. “I learned that it takes patience to be a good leader, but you also have to be diligent in making sure that the campers respect you. I can be their friend, but their leader as well,” said Waters, 16, who supervised 20 boys.Community projects included making snacks for soldiers guarding The Moving Wall, the traveling, half-size replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial; packing snacks in backpacks for children in need; making pillowcases for a children’s home; making blankets and raising funds for homeless dogs; cooking dinner for the local Ronald McDonald House; and much more.Andrea Hill, 18, of Crawfordville, Georgia, organized a clothing and shoe drive for residents of her mother’s hometown in the Philippines. “I was able to collect seven large boxes of clothes and pass them around in my mother’s hometown as Christmas gifts,” she said. “I was shocked by how happy they were to receive clothes and to find some new shoes to wear. It made me realize how lucky and privileged we are in America, when people in developing countries, like the Philippines, struggle every day, working in the heat, to earn enough money to provide for their families.”No matter what their age, people learn best through doing, and this is the heart of Georgia 4-H, said Arch Smith, state 4-H leader of Georgia’s largest youth leadership organization.“The best lessons in life are learned through hands-on experiences, and 4-H provides many opportunities for youth to learn valuable life skills through evaluation contests, public speaking, record keeping, knowledge bowl contests, shooting sports, livestock projects, summer camp experiences and environmental education outdoor classes,” said Smith, a former Warren County, Georgia, 4-H’er. “The Georgia State 4-H Congress is the capstone event that celebrates the success of the best of the best in Georgia 4-H.” This year’s first-place Georgia 4-H’ers, by home county, are:BARTOW COUNTYEnvironmental Science – Amelia PayneBEN HILL COUNTYHealth – Tyler TuckerBERRIEN COUNTYWorkforce Preparation – Ben MurrayBLECKLEY COUNTYFruits, Vegetables and Nuts – Adam BelflowerOutdoor Recreation – Dawson JarrellBULLOCH COUNTYPerforming Arts/Piano – Chandler LiggettPerforming Arts/Vocal – Chyann HoyleCATOOSA COUNTYFlowers, Shrubs and Lawns – Emily CasonCHATTOOGA COUNTYDog Care and Training – Hamp ThomasCLARKE COUNTYArts and Crafts – Mackenzie WurstCOLUMBIA COUNTYFood Fare – Julianne JonesPerforming Arts/Other – Harley Williams COWETA COUNTYHorse – Kailey PrinceCRISP COUNTYForestry, Wood Science – Kayla StephensDECATUR COUNTYPork Production – Heath ParkerDEKALB COUNTYPublic Speaking – Kailah TriceDOUGLAS COUNTYHuman Development – Kayla JaconetteEFFINGHAM COUNTYTarget Sports – Grace KeifferSports – Rose MossELBERT COUNTYSheep and Meat Goats – Elise WebbGORDON COUNTYPoultry and Egg Science – Caleb CarrGRADY COUNTYHistory – Adam WombleGWINNETT COUNTYEntomology – Harrison MartinHALL COUNTYFashion Revue – Rhea ChawlaHART COUNTYPhysical, Biological and Earth Science – Robert HarrisonHENRY COUNTYDairy Foods – Piper BrownHOUSTON COUNTYPhotography – Christopher MorganJACKSON COUNTYWildlife and Marine Science – Caleb TylerJASPER COUNTYSafety – Ivy EnglishLIBERTY COUNTYCommunications – Sophia Rodriguez MADISON COUNTYPerforming Arts/General – Cubby RupersMITCHELL COUNTYFestive Foods for Health – Courtney ConineMORGAN COUNTYBeef – Will WoodardDairy and Milk Science – James CaglePerforming Arts/Dance – Marie HayesOCONEE COUNTYHousing, Equipment and Environment – Hayden GuthrieTextiles, Merchandising and Interiors – Andrew HuntPAULDINGCompanion and Animal Science – Aaren SchertlerPEACHVeterinary Science – Abigail TurnerRABUN COUNTYScience of Engineering and Mechanics – Huck SmithSPALDINGFood Safety and Preservation – Hannah RutledgeTERRELL COUNTYFamily Resource Management – Jessica CliettTIFT COUNTYComputer Information Technology – Jarod BeemanUNION COUNTYPlant and Soil Science – Gabriella JenningsWILCOX COUNTYFood for Fitness – Haley WilsonWILKES COUNTYInternational – Andrea HillFor more information about Georgia 4-H, go to www.Georgia4h.org.