4-H Capitol Experience prepares teens for active citizenship
Emmet County 4-H members gather for a photo with lawmakers during the recent 4-H Capitol Experience conference in East Lansing: (front, row, from left) Emily Kurburski, Josef Smith, Keisha Lovely, Elizabeth Kurburski, Tequara Kiley, Amy Klungle, Kristy Dayson; (back row) MSU Extension educator Emily Proctor, Julia Yates, Randall Abney, Rep. Frank Foster, David Andress, Sen. Howard Walker and Rep. Bruce Rendon. (Courtesy photo / April 19, 2013)
During their time in the capital city, attendees learned the responsibilities of citizens, explored different aspects of policy issues, discovered various career options available in public policy, attended a bill writing session and met people involved with state government. The goal of this conference is for youth to learn they can influence the government, even at a young age.
Although not all participants are necessarily interested in pursuing professions associated with government, Capitol Experience provides a chance for teens to get a different viewpoint of state government and its policies, and learn how they can have an impact on issues.
"I'm interested in how our government works and what the legislators' roles are. This was a great experience and it helped me to see what's involved in all aspects of our state government," said first year 4-H Capitol Experience participant Elizabeth Kurburski of Emmet County 4-H.
Capitol Experience provides youth the chance to learn from representatives who are currently working in government positions. By learning through numerous hands-on activities, participants get a real sense of just how much work goes into specific jobs that make up and support the government.
Capitol Experience attendees were selected based on an application process. Before attending the conference, selected participants were expected to complete a pre-conference activity to teach them about local civic engagement by attending government meetings, interviewing members of nonprofit organizations, or researching local issues, as well as contacting their representative and senator expressing interest in meeting them at the conference. When participants return home to their counties, they are encouraged to become involved with local public policy issues, participate in service projects, or carry out local projects.
For information on other 4-H youth development programs, contact Diane Brazier, Emmet County 4-H coordinator at (231) 439-8974.