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Ryne Crosthwait speaks to members at OFB Capitol Camp about his mock legislature topics (Photo courtesy of Oklahoma Farm Bureau)

Capitol Kids

Friday, January 5, 2024

Media Contact: Sophia Fahleson | Digital Communications Specialist | 405-744-7063 |

FFA and 4-H members from across Oklahoma embarked on a two-day journey in June 2023 to learn about and experience the state legislative process.

At Oklahoma Farm Bureau Capitol Camp, students had the opportunity to develop mock legislation.

The camp is a project started by Rodd Moesel, Oklahoma Farm Bureau president, and Joe Dorman, Oklahoma Institute for Child Advocacy president.

“This is a dream I’ve had for a long time,” Moesel said.

Moesel and Dorman have known each other and worked on projects together for many years.

Together, they developed the idea for Capitol Camp.

Staff members in Oklahoma Farm Bureau, OICA, 4-H and FFA worked together in 2022 to create a camp for both 4-H and FFA members to gain firsthand experience of the legislative process, Moesel said.

“This event has been several years in the making,” said Katie Wilkinson, Oklahoma Farm Bureau south central field representative.

The capacity for the camp is 101 students because the house chamber has that many seats, Wilkinson said.

“We want the students to have investment in the camp,” Moesel said.

Oklahoma Farm Bureau pays for the two-day camp. However, the organizers have each participant pay a $50 fee to attend.

“We have already started planning for next year’s camp,” Wilkinson said. “In February, we will really start to dive into the planning and promotion.”

The applications for 2024 will open in early spring and will be due in late spring, Wilkinson said.

“This was the first time Oklahoma 4-H and FFA members were working together outside the livestock arena,” said Cathleen Taylor, OSU Extension assistant 4-H specialist.

The camp is open to all high school 4-H and FFA members from Oklahoma, Taylor said.

“I’m excited all organizations cooperated for this camp,” Moesel said.

Ryne Crosthwait, a senior at Stillwater High School, attended Oklahoma Capitol Camp in 2022 and 2023. The first year he attended the camp as a 4-H member, and the second year he attended as an FFA member.

“The camp has really helped me find a passion for something I used to have no interest in,” Crosthwait said. “We learned how legislation works.”

The students who applied for the camp participated in two virtual meetings prior to attending the camp to develop legislation, Wilkinson said.

Students submitted bills based on the issues they are most passionate about, she added, and they learned about policy development through hands-on experiences.

“The biggest impact this has is teaching youth the legislative process,” Taylor said.

The students gain experience with the processes of different kinds of bills, Moesel said. Some Oklahoma state representatives even come and spend time with the participating students, he added.

“We get to sit in the actual chairs the representatives sit in,” Crosthwait said. “This is not an opportunity you could usually experience.”

Throughout the camp, students were assigned to committees to vote on the bills. If they were passed in committee, the bills were voted on by all participants, Wilkinson said. As students gained more confidence, they started lobbying to other students during their social times, she added.

“When we look back in 20 years or so, some of these kids will be sitting in those chairs as representatives and senators,” Moesel said.

“It’s really exciting to watch the students gain confidence and get to better understand the legislative process,” Moesel added.

After the camp, some students worked with their local and state representatives to get their bills voted on in the state legislature, Wilkinson said. This camp makes an impact on the students, state legislators and the general public, she added.

“I am excited for the future when I see all of these sharp young people,” Moesel said.

Story by: Sarah Curley | Cowboy Journal

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