Area teens learned "There's No Place Like 4-H" during the Southeast District Leadership Conference.

The 'Wizard of Oz' themed, three-day conference took place Wednesday through Friday at the Ardmore Convention Center. Teens attended skill-building workshops and elected a new set of district officers.

"It was a great conference. The kids really participated, and that means they are having a great time," said Becky Walker, officer team advisor and Ponotoc County Extension Office educator.

One of four districts in Oklahoma, the Southeast District covers 19 counties, including Carter, Johnston, Love, Marshall and Murray.

Steven Baringer, Sulphur, led the planning for the conference as the district president.

"It's an amazing experience to represent the best district in Oklahoma and to get to serve them," Baringer said.

He previously served as vice president, so planning the conference the second time around was easier.

"It was a lot easier, and I was able to give other officers more guidance," he said.

Other officers were vice president Ladd Landgraf, Marshall County, secretary Olivia Hamilton, Ponotoc County; reporter Taylor Smith, Ponotoc County; and song leader Jessi Thomas, Marshall County.

Even those his tenure as a district officer has ended, Baringer is excited for the new set of officers who will be serving this year.

"I loved getting to see the newly elected officers and the looks on their faces as they were announced," he explained. "I've been in that situation before. It's an amazing experience they have in store for themselves."

New officers are president Olivia Hamilton, Ponotoc County; vice president Seth Shelton, Leflore County; secretary Colleen Maher, Carter County; reporter Roger Thomas Love County; and song leader Joshua Naugle, Johnston County.

Often, it is friendships with others from across the district that inspire students to take on the larger leadership rolls. Roger Thomas, Marietta sophomore, was elected district reporter.

"I had no plans to run until this 4-H year," Thomas explained. "However, I was friends with the old officers. I looked to them for inspiration. I felt like I could contribute. I've been contributing in my county, but now I want to spread out to the Southeast District."

District conferences give teens the opportunity to bond with others who live near them.

"This is great because I'm closer to kids here than at Round Up, which is the entire state," Maher said. "These are my neighbors."