AMES, Iowa – It’s not every day that Iowa teenagers can talk one-on-one with their state legislators. That’s one of the reasons 128 4-H youth from across Iowa participated in the Iowa Extension Council Association and 4-H Legislative Day at the Iowa State Capitol and World Food Prize.
Legislative Day is an opportunity for youth to learn about one of the core program areas of 4-H — leadership and civic engagement, focusing specifically on global citizenship and the legislative process. Youth participants were able to connect with their local county extension council members, who served as mentors during the Feb. 19 event, as well as meet members of the Iowa House of Representatives and Senate to discuss issues affecting youth.
A group of Buena Vista County 4-H youth attended the event with a member of the Buena Vista County Extension Council and a local 4-H club leader. While at the Iowa State Capitol they met with State House Rep. Gary Worthan, who serves Buena Vista County.
“We talked with him about Iowa’s bottle bill to help keep our community clean,” said 4-H member Abby Bean. “He also showed us how the floor of the House (of Representatives) runs with the clerks and pages.”
Legislative Day gives Iowa’s extension council members, professionals and 4-H youth the opportunity to share the public value Cooperative Extension brings to every county in Iowa.
4-H member Emily Launderville told Worthan that getting to interact with elected officials from the Iowa House and Senate had a big impact on her as a 4-H’er.
“He told us to take advantage of every opportunity to experience these kinds of programs,” she said.
Legislative Day attendees also visited the nearby World Food Prize to meet with Gov. Kim Reynolds and to learn more about global citizenship. Gov. Reynolds discussed the impact youth leaders can have in their local communities and emphasized the need for entrepreneurship and innovation among young Iowans to continue to build thriving communities across Iowa. Youth also had the opportunity to ask questions of the Governor that focused on her background and career as well as bills in the current legislative session.
“Exploring the World Food Prize gave participants the opportunity to learn how they can be global citizens starting in their own communities,” said Haley Jones, 4-H leadership and civic engagement specialist. “Youth learned how individuals, places and resources can come together to create the world we live in and that they can play a major role in that work.”
The day concluded with a tour of the World Food Prize, which highlighted global citizens who have enhanced food production worldwide as well as recognized Iowa leaders, including the founder of 4-H club programs, Jessie Field Shambaugh.
Through Legislative Day, youth learned about opportunities to engage in local and state government as well as participate in global citizenship learning experiences through 4-H and the World Food Prize.
“I’m going to take back and share with my (4-H) club about my experiences today so in the future other members can have these opportunities as well,” said Buena Vista County 4-H’er Alyssa Feeley.
[PHOTO] Buena Vista County 4-H youth members (left to right) Alyssa Feeley, Leah Bean, Abby Bean, Emily Launderville and Amelia Stark participated in Iowa Extension Council Association and 4-H Legislative Day.