WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Health care reform protests on Capitol Hill gave four Iowa 4-H’ers a live-action civics lesson and a glimpse of history being made. The youth, Iowa’s delegates to the 80th annual National 4-H Conference, observed Americans sharing their voices during protests on Capitol Hill March 20 prior to passage of the health care reform bill March 21.
“Being in Washington, D.C., during the passing of the health care bill was historic because it demonstrated our first amendment rights. It also showed that we, the people, have the civic duty to protest if we do not agree with the system,” said Iowa delegate Grant Bargfrede, 18, of Ankeny.
Added Sara Rockow, 18, of Fort Dodge, “I was able to observe this historic event because of 4-H. 4-H has given me many opportunities to grow as a leader and a citizen.”
The other Iowa delegates who attended the conference from March 20-25 were Emma Christianson, 18, Lake Mills, and Natalie DeBerg, 18, Burlington. ISU Extension 4-H Program Specialist Annette Brown accompanied the youth.
Christianson said, “Attending National 4-H Conference taught me a lot about citizenship. I learned how important it is to be an active citizen by voting, communicating with your legislators or doing service learning to better your community. If we as citizens can do this, we can really make a difference.”
DeBerg added, “I learned about the importance of citizenship and that contributing to one’s community and state is vital for the growth of Iowa 4-H.”
The Iowa delegates also had the opportunity to meet with their legislators to discuss state 4-H programs. They met with Sen. Tom Harkin, Sen. Chuck Grassley, Rep. Dave Loebsack and advisees for Rep. Tom Latham and Rep. Leonard Boswell.
Some 300 youth and adults representing 4-H programs across the country, Canada and Puerto Rico gathered to exchange ideas, gain knowledge to share back at home and develop recommendations to help guide the future of 4-H programs nationally and in the their communities, Brown explained.
This year’s theme, “.COM -- Citizens on the Move,” focused on citizenship and youth civic engagement, she said. Through conference sessions and facilitated discussions, delegates learned and shared information on current trends and issues relevant to 4-H and youth programs, building effective partnerships, creating innovative 4-H programs, expanding the use of technology, working with diverse groups and impacting community needs.
The conference delegates also discussed how 4-H programs could further engage in citizenship efforts and develop young people to meet the challenges of the future. The recommendations were delivered to U.S. Department of Agriculture and 4-H officials.
The Des Moines Register and Monsanto sponsored the Iowa youth’s trip.
About the Iowa 4-H Youth Development Program
4-H is the nation’s largest youth development organization, serving more than 6 million young people across America with programs in leadership, citizenship, communication and life skills. One in five Iowa school-age youth are involved in 4-H. In Iowa, 4-H Youth Development is headquartered at the Iowa State University campus in Ames. 4-H is supported by federal, state and county funding, private grants and donations, and fees. For more information about joining 4-H, contact your Iowa State University Extension county office at www.extension.iastate.edu/content/county-offices/ or visit www.extension.iastate.edu/4H.
Laura Sternweis, Extension Communications and External Relations, (515) 294-0775,