I have a lot of favorite 4-H events and programs. Usually it’s whichever one I’m at currently. However, over time 4-H Day at the Capitol (DATC) has become special to me as it has evolved into a tangible representation of youth voice.
There are few things that excite me as much as seeing youth 1) identify a cause they really care for, 2) make a plan to fight for that cause, and 3) take action! Several years ago when I was employed with another state 4-H program, budget cuts meant the possibility of closing down one of our 4-H centers. Without prompting, 4-H members immediately took to social media and started their own hashtag and campaign to share their stories. Their advocacy was so powerful, the state 4-H program started gathering their ongoing stories on a dynamic page of the state 4-H website.
Long story short- the camp remained, and thousands of young people experienced first-hand how their voices combined could make an impact on something so important to them.
As you know, this year Florida 4-H has put in a Legislative Budget Request for 1.9 million dollars which would help sustain our current 4-H programs as well as grow to reach more previously unserved youth with high quality programs. It’s been interesting to see the responses of our young people about this LBR. I’ve heard a lot of- “How can I help?” “Who can I talk too?” and the like. I’ve seen our alumni build their own social media presence to connect to others who care to see our programs grow. What I haven’t seen is apathy.
Friends, if our job is to create the next generation of caring, contributing citizens…we are clearly doing something right. I don’t know if we will be funded this year. But I do know, we are giving our young people an incredible lesson in speaking up and out for something they believe in.
I 100% believe that our young people can change the world, but they need our help. One resource you may wish to check out is:
Youth Serve America: Youth Can Change the World This step by step guide helps adults help guide youth in tackling an issue they care about. I especially appreciate that advocacy is listed as a medium for change.