Many people in our country have never visited our nation's capital, much less contacted their congressmen. But a group of five 4-H members from Texas 4-H District II recently took a trip to Washington D.C. and presented ideas to national partners. Caitlin Jackson, Crosby County Extension Agent, said that this group of young people gained first hand experience of how our government works.
"They were selected to go on this premiere youth leadership experience by applying through the state 4-H office," Jackson said. "They participated in various round table discussions where they discussed issues such as bullying, distracted driving, incorporating agriculture into our everyday society, and then they presented those topics to federal partners as well in D.C."
Our local 4-H kids each teamed up with 4-H members from across the country to collaborate on ideas for selected topics. They each shared their experience in D.C.
"My group was the bullying prevention group. We worked with the federal bullying agency and we made a tool kit, which was 170 pages, and we made it youth friendly," Shelby Maresca said.
"My topic was stem, or science, technology, engineering and mathematics. We would create an app with an invasive specie in that area and you'd plot it so that people would know where that species was and it was agricultural event too, so if someone plotted that species was there, then someone could go ahead and start spraying or start protecting from that species," MaKayla Arthur said.
"My trip to D.C. was pretty amazing, just getting to see all of the nation's capital, all of the memorials, wanting to be there and see everything was cool. And then presenting to the United States Department of Transportation was probably something I know that many kids will never get to do, and it's actually pretty fun to do. Being in front of thousands of people that can see you from their offices was actually pretty amazing," Huntor Watson said.
"It's a four day event and we got to meet people from all over the country. Everywhere from Canada to Puerto Rico and Hawaii, and so it was pretty cool to see other people's activities that they do through 4-H because they're different than what we do around here," Jake Bramlet said.
And besides the National 4-H Convention, each of these young people are involved in their local clubs. Every single one of them said that agriculture has positively impacted their lives.
"It's just been humbling, and it's helped me find myself. I'm going to college in ag, so it has just been a big thing for me and my family. I'm several generations into the farming, so being a part of 4-H is very important to me," Shelby Maresca said.
"4-H has really taught me how important leadership is," MaKayla Arthur said.
"We've had a farm for over 100 years, but as 4-H has evolved from my parents to myself and my brother, just the fact that we have grown more over the years," Huntor Watson said.
"We got to go in to Mac Thornberry's office and we got to talk to him about some of his ideas for agriculture in our area cause he grew up on a ranch, and so it was cool to see that he was just kind of a normal guy like us that grew up through agriculture," Jake Bramlet said.
The students participated in an evening of team bonding by doing Adrenaline City at Body Works on 4th street. Jackson said that these young people impressed not only her as their 4-H leader, but made an impact on our national leaders and are on their way to being America's leaders of tomorrow.
"All of these kids are very active in their local 4-H programs where they have already developed a skill set of leadership, communication, public speaking, and they're comfortable with who they are, and they're comfortable taking those issues to the federal level to speak to the House Committee on Agriculture and our different representatives. And so I think that all of their experiences that they've had as 4-H members has kind of gotten them to this point where they could present themselves as adults to these federal partners and show them the importance of the 4-H program and agriculture," Jackson said.
Congratulations again to the District II 4-H members that attended the National 4-H Conference in Washington D.C. and were this week's Ag Students of the Week. To nominate a 4-H or FFA member to be featured on our show, please email us at AgDay@fox34.com .