As the 2016 election year heats up, I am reminded of how important teaching citizenship can be to our youth.
Across America, the 4-H Youth Development organization believes strongly in providing leadership and life skills for our next generation of leaders. La Plata County 4-H provides citizenship learning opportunities by having members take on officer roles within the club program.
Our 15 clubs throughout the county meet monthly to conduct business and activity meetings. Most clubs have a full officer team. The team is made up of a president, vice president, secretary, treasurer, parliamentarian and reporter. Each officer has different responsibilities and tasks to complete. An adult club leader and volunteer parents work with officers to advise them about their responsibilities.
Club officers learn a variety of skills preparing them for future success. For instance, officers get hands-on experiences in meeting planning, public speaking, record keeping, accounting, parliamentary procedures and effective reporting. The team building work that goes on throughout the year is pretty exceptional.
Club meetings provide the opportunity for members to properly discuss and vote on business items. Many items deal with community service projects and pro-social events for the club. They use Robert’s Rules of Order to make these decisions. We encourage all members to have a voice and discuss items before either voting or delaying the vote. We feel that respecting all opinions and different viewpoints on an item teaches good civility.
In addition to each 4-H club, we have a special County Council that meets to represent all of our clubs on a local, state and national level. These representatives come from clubs all over the county. This year, I am excited to advise six strong young women in their leadership pursuits.
Our 4-H County Council officers consist of: President Kayla Stevens of the Westside Wranglers club, Stephenie Riegel of the Mountain Shadows club, Secretary Taylor Jenkins and Treasurer Kori Jenkins of the Ignacio Westerneers, Parliamentarian Katherine McCourt and Reporter Halle Moore of the Rocky Mountain Rough Riders.
All 4-H club officers and members are making a valuable commitment to helping their communities. Members also have great opportunities to continue to develop their citizenship skills through state and national leadership events.
Last month, 4-H members from Archuleta and La Plata counties participated in 4-H Day at the Capitol. Members toured the building, heard from legislative aides and representatives, and were present to hear the proclamation making Jan. 25, 2016, 4-H Day in the state of Colorado. We were privileged to have Rep. J. Paul Brown, R-Ignacio, get us on the House floor for the reading.
On a national level, present and alumni 4-H members have been able to represent La Plata County 4-H by attending Citizen Washington Focus. This event, held each summer in Washington, D.C., allows members to experience how leadership works on a federal level. Applications are due by March 1 to attend this year.
The citizenship skills learned as a youth in 4-H can make our clubs, community, country and world a better place.
Greg Felsen is the La Plata County 4-H youth development agent. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or 382-6463.