Extension News

Iowa 4-H'ers Hear Ag Secretary, Meet State Legislators

Ag Secretary Bill Northey


AMES, Iowa -- They may have been tired, but some 200 4-H youth and volunteers got revved up with a pep talk from Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey.

Northey was the send-off speaker at 4-H Day at the Legislature March 27 in Des Moines. The annual event is offered to selected counties by Iowa State University (ISU) Extension 4-H Youth Development to acquaint youth with the legislative process.

“You can effect change,” Northey told the delegation. “Your comments to legislators have impact. They’re ordinary people just like you.”

They’d been learning that all day. At 7 a.m. they arrived at the Iowa Historical Building for an Iowa Egg Council omelet breakfast with members of the Iowa House and Senate. Delegates were welcomed by legislative co-chairs for the day, Sen. Paul McKinley, District 36, and Rep. Dolores Mertz, District 8. They also heard from Iowa State Ambassadors, Collegiate 4-H and State Of Iowa Youth Action Committee (SIYAC) members.

4-H’ers explored some important issues being discussed in this year's legislative session. They attended one of five educational seminars, including tuition costs for college, immigration, minimum wage, core curriculum in schools, and nutrition and obesity.

Delegates also displayed community service projects at the State Capitol, met with legislators and toured the Supreme Court before assembling on the Capitol steps for the send off rally.

At the end of the day, Northey told them, “This is a wonderful time in Iowa agriculture. People are moving to Iowa because we have the best renewable energy in the world.” He also invited the youth to consider staying in Iowa and keep agriculture in mind, perhaps as a career choice.

Recalling his own 4-H background and recent campaign for office, Northey spoke of the leadership skills 4-H’ers pick up and the lifelong friendships they form that “will be very important for the rest of your life.”

Chuck Morris, program director of ISU Extension 4-H Youth Development, urged the youth, including many first-time visitors to the Capitol, to take away not only a better grasp of the legislative process, but an appreciation of the Capitol itself and its symbolic artwork – a celebration of agriculture, industry, knowledge, liberty and justice.

ISU Extension audio producer Doug Cooper interviewed one delegate per county (33). Interviews will be available for download. Group photos of county delegations may be downloaded at /4H/LegislativeDay/index.htm.

4-H is a community of young people across America who are learning leadership, citizenship and life skills. In Iowa, 4-H is headquartered on the Iowa State campus in Ames.

Contacts :
Rebecca Nibe, 4-H Youth Development, (515) 294-9785, bnibe@iastate.edu
Carol Ouverson, Extension Communications and Marketing, (515) 294-9640, couverso@iastate.edu