On January 30th, over 900 4-H youth and parents converged on the Florida Capitol. The hallways were filled with youth dressed in green polo shirts. The delegation represented the more than 208,000 4-H members, ages 5-18, through 4-H clubs, 4-H camps and school enrichment programs across the state.
Youth Advocacy in Action
The annual Day at the Capitol offers youth the opportunity to develop a better understanding of how government functions and to practice advocacy skills representing 4-H during meetings with Florida’s governor and legislators.
During the visit, 4-H’ers and their families have the opportunity to educate members of the Florida Legislature about the effect 4-H participation has on the lives of Floridians throughout the state. 4-H offers a robust array of programs that include the Tropicana Public Speaking Competition, residential camps, STEM education, and projects in a number of interest areas that range from citizenship to financial management, and agriculture, among others.
A Full Day of Exciting Activities
The day began with a greeting from the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. Deputy Commissioner Deborah Tannenbaum addressed the sea of 4-H green in the Capitol courtyard. After the opening ceremonies, 4-H youth and families dispersed to begin their day of advocacy and meetings with legislators. This year, 4-H delegates focused on advocating for educational center improvements for the three residential education centers statewide commonly referred to by youth as “camps,” which all youth in all 67 counties have opportunities to attend programs at.
Other activities throughout the day included tours of the Senate and House chambers where 4-H youth engaged in mock debates and learned how their elected officials follow an official process to move up or down on proposed legislation. Youth also had the opportunity to engage in a scavenger hunt for stickers that had them searching for specific offices and landmarks throughout the Capitol complex. Many youth were also tracking their steps as part of a wellness challenge and recorded several miles of walking during the day. Other highlights of the day included taking in the view from the 22nd floor of the Capitol and touring the Old Capitol Museum.
All in all, it was another engaging experience for our 4-H youth and families to experience. If you would like to learn more information about this program or other great 4-H programs in your county, please contact your local UF IFAS County Extension Office, or visit http://florida4h.org.