HARRISBURG — Local youth were among 82 4-H members from across the state who met in Harrisburg recently for the annual Pennsylvania 4-H Capital Days program. Representing Clearfield County was Anna Catherman, a member of Ropes ‘n Reins 4-H Club.
Sponsored by Pennsylvania 4-H, Capital Days is a citizenship-awareness and civic-engagement educational program designed to engage 4-H members in the political process and prepare them to become active and engaged citizens of Pennsylvania. Those attending gain valuable leadership and citizenship skills that will empower and lead them to successful futures.
“Pennsylvania 4-H’s Capital Days event is an extremely important part of our youth development program,” said Penn State Extension assistant director for 4-H youth development programs Dr. Joshua Rice. “Youth learning about civic engagement and their role in democracy has a direct impact on the growth of our communities, country and world,” he said.
During the event, participants learned about governmental issues and the political process through workshops focusing on parliamentary procedure, reading a bill, and party roles and affiliations. They were also educated on how to discuss and debate a bill and participated in a mock legislative session. This year’s delegates discussed a bill to institute a civics-test graduation requirement in high schools.
Delegates also participated in a workshop on advocacy, during which they learned how to advocate and speak out on issues about which they are passionate and that affect them, their families and their communities. A panel of fellow 4-H members discussed how they advocated for an issue that was important to them.
Madison Shaw, Alyssa Neff and Jacob Bell, 4-H members from Dauphin County, discussed how agriculture affects almost every aspect of our daily lives and how they work to educate the public about the importance of agriculture.
Lorelei McIntyre-Brewer, a 4-H member from Perry County, talked about two organizations she founded: Heart Hugs, which makes compression heart pillows for pediatric heart patients, and Brittany’s Hope, which is an organization to help parents get the help they need when their children are diagnosed with hydrocephalus.
This group of youth used their passions to challenge the audience to do the same and made them aware that regardless of one’s age or status they can become an advocate and make a difference in their communities and the world.
In addition to workshops, delegates were given a tour of and had their photo taken at the Capitol. They also visited the State Museum of Pennsylvania and participated in a scavenger hunt through the museum.
On the last day, Pennsylvania Secretary of Agriculture Russell Redding spoke to those attending about the value of 4-H. He emphasized the important life skills that are learned through participation in the program and how those skills have built strong leaders for the future. The event wrapped up with a legislative brunch during which delegates talked with their legislators one-on-one about 4-H and their 4-H experiences.
In describing her experience as a delegate at this year’s event, Catherman said, “I realized just how big 4-H is and how much of it isn’t just for ‘farm kids.’ Throughout the weekend I got to meet people involved in leadership, cooking, sewing, forestry and microwave projects, to name a few. As far as issues go, I learned how important state funding is for 4-H, and how our interactions with lawmakers can ensure that the program is able to continue for many years to come.”
Administered in Pennsylvania by Penn State Extension, 4-H is a non-formal educational youth-development program of the national Cooperative Extension System that helps young people develop knowledge and skills to become capable, caring and contributing citizens.