The Oklahoma 4-H Youth Development program is well known for providing hands-on learning experiences for its members. Recently, a group of 4-H’ers spent the day at the Oklahoma Capitol Building learning not only how the state’s government works, but also getting one-on-one time with their senators and representatives sharing the impact 4-H has statewide.
Oklahoma 4-H was represented by 128 club members from 49 counties in the 22nd Annual 4-H Day at the Capitol where the youth got to see first-hand what they have learned in their government classes in school.
Cathleen Taylor, state leadership and citizenship specialist with the State 4-H Office at Oklahoma State University, said not only is this a learning opportunity for the club members, it also gives state leaders a chance to learn first-hand more about 4-H and OSU Cooperative Extension.
“Some of our governmental officials weren’t in 4-H when they were younger, so this is a great opportunity for our state leaders to hear first-hand about the positive impact 4-H has on Oklahoma’s youth,” Taylor said.
Gov. Kevin Stitt was glad to have the group at the capitol.
“4-H is a great organization and it’s fantastic for them to visit and learn how laws are made,” Stitt said. “These are our future leaders - I want them to dream big and I want to inspire them.”
Damona Doye, associate vice president, Oklahoma Cooperative Extension Service, addressed the group and said they would have many opportunities throughout their lives to be engaged in civic experiences.
“I encourage you to run for sheriff or governor and be involved in civic activities. What you’re doing in 4-H is laying the groundwork for what you’ll do in the future,” Doye said. “4-H Day at the Capitol is a great opportunity to share your passion with our state leaders.”
Former 4-H’er, Rep. John Pfeiffer, Deputy Floor Leader, said he learned so much as a club member.
“It’s amazing the life skills you learn in 4-H,” Pfeiffer said. “4-H is a unifying organization and you’ll continue to run into your fellow club members throughout your life.”
While at the Capitol, the group has an opportunity to visit both the House and Senate Galleries where a proclamation was read declaring April 17 at 4-H Day at the Capitol. In addition, Trent Gibbs, Stephens County 4-H’er and president of the State Leadership Council, and J’Kai Johnson of Langston 4-H, spoke on the House and Senate Floor.
To help legislators gain a better understanding of what 4-H’ers are doing across the state, the club members were able to eat lunch with their respective senators and representatives.
Freshman Rep. Trish Ranson, Payne County, said she learned a lot from talking to club members from her district during lunch.
“Sarah Walker, the student I spoke with, has grown up in the program and has benefitted greatly from it,” Ranson said. “I’m a firm believer in a student program that engages kids and gets them plugged into activities that will grow their citizenship for the greater good of the community.”
Jackson County 4-H’er and State 4-H Ambassador Tori Booker, said she enjoys taking part in 4-H Day at the Capitol.
“I enjoy not only getting to meet with my legislators, but other legislators across the state,” Booker said. “Capitol Day is important because citizenship is one of the main pillars of 4-H and it shows club members how to become civically active and how to stay engaged in their communities.”
Austin Rankin, Woods County 4-H’er and reporter on the State Leader Council, said 4-H Day at the Capitol is an opportunity to educate state leaders on the impact 4-H has on communities across the state.
“My favorite part of the day is seeing our representative and senators at work. This day is so important to 4-H because it helps ensure ongoing support for 4-H, and also helps educating our senators and legislators what Oklahoma 4-H is doing for our communities, our state, our country and our world.”
Secretary of Agriculture Blayne Arthur was on hand to close out the day with the youth.
“This is such a great opportunity for our youth to let our senators and representatives know what is going on in 4-H around the state,” Arthur said. “Having that one-on-one dialogue with the 4-H’ers from their particular county or district is important. They learn a lot about what our 4-H’ers are doing and it’s an opportunity to highlight the caliber of 4-H members we have in the program.”