4-H Capitol Experience is an annual four-day conference that helps prepare youth for active citizenship by focusing on civic engagement and public policy.

March 15-18, 2020


Register Today! 

4-H Capitol Experience is an annual four-day conference that helps prepare youth for active citizenship by focusing on civic engagement and public policy. Up to 100 teens from around the state converge on Lansing, Michigan to experience state government in action and learn how they can influence policy issues. Participants interact with legislators, state agency staff, lobbyists and other resource people to learn how policy is made. Attendees will:

  • Understand the responsibilities of a citizen
  • Explore different aspects of a policy issue that may affect individuals and communities
  • Explore various careers in public policy
  • Attend bill writing session
  • Have an in-depth meeting with someone in (or involved with) state government

If you want to see more, you can check out this video

Simulations and activities are incorporated to reinforce and apply what is learned about government. Teens leave the conference with the charge to share what they have learned and get involved with other leadership and civic engagement activities in their communities!

Learn more by reviewing the one-page 2017 Impact Summary.

letter for your school is available for the days at the event.

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Find 4-H Capitol Experience on Facebook!


Please contact your local 4-H Program Coordinator or local 4-H office to inquire about local funding opportunities. Scholarships may also be available through your local Farm Bureau office. A limited number of need-based scholarships are also available through the event itself. Please apply online for a scholarship no later than January 31, 2020. 

About the 2020 Conference

When and where: 3 p.m. Sunday, March 15, 2020 to 3:00 p.m. Wednesday, March 18, 2020 at the Okemos Conference Center. Tours and agency visits will take place at the State Capitol and surrounding area.

Who should attend: High school students at least 14 years old.  At this time, all adult chaperone needs are covered by event staff. All participants must have pictured identification.

Cost: $360 for 4-H members, $380 non 4-H members. Includes all meals, lodging and material fees. All registrations must be paid in full by February 16, 2020. Any registration not paid in full by this time will be canceled and the space will be offered to registrants on the wait-list.

Registration deadlines: Registration is collected online via a secure web-based platform. Interested participants must register by February 9, 2020. We ask that this registration is completed with both the participant and a parent/guardian present, as digital permissions and agreements will be requested during the registration process.

If you have any questions on the registration process, contact your county 4-H program coordinator.

Registration Link: Coming soon!

Non 4-H Members are also required to enroll in 4-H Online.

Cancellation policy: Voluntary cancellations received between February 1-16, 2020 will incur a $30 cancellation fee. Registration fees are non-refundable if cancellations are received on or after February 17, 2020.

Registration process: Participation is available on a first-come, first-served basis. Space is limited to 150 total participants (which includes MSU Extension event staff and youth steering committee members). Each participant will need to register online. Note that communications for this event are made via e-mail, so please provide and email during registration that is checked on a regular basis. All registration payments must be made in full by February 16, 2020. If full payment is not received by this time, your registration will be cancelled and your spot offered to a registrant on the wait-list.

There will also be a pre-conference meeting held virtually within two weeks of the conference start date. After registration has closed and your payment has been made in full, you’ll receive a packet of information which will include connection details for the meeting.

A Web link to a post-event news release and county delegation photograph of participants and their legislator(s) will be e-mailed to counties for distribution to local media following the event.

MSU Extension 4-H Capitol Experience Program Handbook

The 4-H Capitol Experience handbook includes the Michigan 4-H Youth Code of Conduct and 4-H Capitol Experience Rules. All participants, volunteers and staff members are expected to abide by the code of conduct, the event rules and all other MSU regulations in order to attend this program. Everyone involved in this program must sign an agreement stating they’ve read, understand and agree to the Michigan 4-H Code of Conduct and program rules in order to be allowed to participate in the program. 

Issue Groups at Capitol Experience

During Capitol Experience we'll take an in-depth look at what role state government plays in policy areas. Throughout the program you'll be working with your "issue group" to select a topic that interests your group, write a bill about that topic, and send that bill through our Mock Legislative Simulation all the way to the Capitol Experience House and Senate! Please select which issue group you would like to be a part of, remembering this is the primary topic you'll be working on throughout the program. 

Note: The bullet pointed topics are examples of topics that would fit under each issue group theme. Our goal is that this will help you clarify what kinds of topics each issue group might cover, but doesn't guarantee that one of our example topics will be what your group chooses (we leave that up to you- the youth participants)!


  • Manure Disposal & Storage
  • Urban farming/urban livestock
  • Animal welfare
  • Trade and promotion of Michigan products
  • Loan forgiveness for young/new farmers
  • GMO labling 
  • Risk Management
  • Farmland preservation
  • Natural Disasters

Civil Rights

  • Affirmative action
  • Bullying
  • Gender equality
  • LBGTQ rights
  • Racial profiling
  • Protesting
  • Campaign finance
  • Homelessness
  • Youth Curfews
  • First amendment rights
  • Second amendment rights


  • School funding
  • Schools of choice/charter schools/home schools
  • Teacher tenure & evaluation
  • Graduation requirements & standardized testing
  • School closures/consolidation
  • School security
  • Common Core standards
  • Trade schools
  • Zero tolerance policies

Environment & Natural Resources

  • Water usage
  • Microplastics
  • Net pens
  • Polluted and/or abandoned properties
  • Invasive species
  • Climate change
  • Bottle Bill
  • Hybrid/electrical/hydrogen powered vehicles
  • Recycling and land-fill management
  • Fracking
  • Hunting/baiting laws 

Government Reform & Transparency

  • Making government more effective
  • Freedom of Information Act
  • Open Meetings Act
  • Voter access/reform
  • Re-districting
  • Campaign Financing


  • Food safety
  • Fitness/teen nutrition/eating disorders
  • Health Insurance/ Health Care Reform
  • Mental health
  • Poverty and health related issues (such as asthma, lead poisoning, lack of access to health care)
  • Marijuana
  • Suicide Prevention
  • Opioids
  • Vaping

Human Services

  • Drug testing for those on public assistance
  • Obesity
  • Drug care treatment
  • Health disparity for those in poverty
  • Foster Care
  • Trauma-informed care
  • Veteran’s services

Law Enforcement and Corrections

  • Sentencing & early release programs
  • Drug and alcohol abuse and its effects
  • Crime prevention
  • Correctional facilities
  • Gun violence
  • Human trafficking
  • Texting and driving
  • Sexting
  • Drugs in schools
  • Privatizing prisons

Jobs & the Economy

  •     Job creation
  •     Budget/finance/tax
  •     Mortgage foreclosure
  •     Entrepreneurship
  •     Tourism/film industry
  •     Downsizing of businesses/layoffs
  •     Unions in Michigan’s economy
  •     Minimum Wage
  •     Teen Worker Laws

Technology & Energy

  • Cyber Bullying
  • Privacy & Cybersecurity
  • Electronic waste disposal
  • Digital Infrastructure
  • Transparency 
  • Wind and solar power


To Find Out More About Michigan’s Capitol

You can visit a variety of Michigan government and institutional sites to learn more about Michigan, the state’s history and society:


For more information on how to get involved as a youth or volunteer, contact your county MSU Extension office or:

Jackie Martin,  4-H Educator
Email: marti623@msu.edu
Phone: 734-222-3877