Leadership and citizenship experience gained through 4-H Citizenship Washington Focus

4-H has many opportunities for youth to experience leadership and citizenship activities, including 4-H Citizenship Washington Focus.

4-H members are often better prepared than non-4-H youth to be contributing citizens in their communities. Citing the research, “4-H Study of Positive Youth Development,” conducted by Tufts University, compared to peers, youth involved in 4-H are four times more likely to make contributions to their communities (grades 7-12) and two times more likely to be civically active (grades 8-12).

Opportunities abound in 4-H for youth to experience leadership and citizenship activities. Members are encouraged to participate in county and state leadership experiences in their 4-H programs, including officer roles, committee representatives, advisory group members and officers, as well as state youth advisory councils. There are multiple National 4-H programs youth can also attend. One activity is 4-H Citizenship Washington Focus, a week-long program scheduled by the National 4-H Council and held in Washington, D.C. each summer.

Youth in state delegations converge in Washington, D.C. to spend time studying the nation’s government and history through sessions held at the National 4-H Conference Center and through visiting memorials and other historic sites in the area. States also arrange for visits with senators and representatives for their delegates on Capitol Hill Day when participants observe the Senate and House proceedings.

The educational tours around Washington, D.C. are led by 4-H program assistants at the Center who undergo extensive training for their summer position. Program assistants actually become certified Washington, D.C. tour guides to instruct 4-H Citizenship Washington Focus participants about the foreign embassies and their diplomats, the history behind the memorials and general navigation while at the Capitol. Youth have an opportunity to visit presidential monuments including the Washington Monument, Lincoln Memorial and Thomas Jefferson Memorial, as well as the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, Korean War Veterans Memorial and World War II Memorial. They also travel to Mount Vernon and Arlington Cemetery.

Besides learning the history and facets of the Capitol, delegates become better prepared to be a part of the governmental process as a citizen and perhaps in a more official role in the operation of their nation’s government. Sessions at the National 4-H Conference Center prepare youth for bill writing and working to pass a bill in Congress.

Other national leadership and citizenship experiences are available to youth through the National 4-H program, including National 4-H Congress in Atlanta, Georgia, and National 4-H Conference in Washington, D.C.

Michigan State University Extension and the Michigan 4-H Youth Development program helps to prepare youth as positive and engaged leaders and global citizens by providing educational experiences and resources for youth interested in developing knowledge and skills in these areas. To learn about the positive impact of Michigan 4-H youth leadership, civic engagement, citizenship and global/cultural programs, read our 2015 Impact Report: “Developing Civically Engaged Leaders.”

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