4-H provides learning laboratory in nation’s capital

4-H Citizenship Washington Focus provides hands-on experience in citizenship to help young people participate in national government.

4-H is known for its hands-on experiential approach to youth development, and the area of civic engagement is no exception. The 4-H Citizenship Washington Focus program has been in existence for more than 50 years, allowing high school students to explore and refine their skills in many areas. The National 4-H Citizenship Washington Focus webpage states that Citizenship Washington Focus gives youth the opportunity to:

  • Strengthen their communication, leadership and citizenship skills on a national level.
  • Understand the importance of civic and social responsibilities as they relate to the development of better citizens and leaders.
  • Exchange ideas, practice respect and form friendships with other youth from diverse backgrounds.
  • Experience hands-on learning using the historical backdrop of Washington, D.C.

All Citizenship Washington Focus participants spend a week exploring the history of Washington, D.C., by visiting memorials and other historic sites. They also meet with legislators, work in a mock government to create and pass bills by the delegation and learn how they can impact the national government. Each state delegation is assigned a National 4-H Citizenship Washington Focus program assistant who receives extensive training in the sites of Washington, D.C., and conduct activities to help participants learn about National government.

The Michigan 4-H Citizenship Washington Focus program includes approximately 50 youth and staff who travel by charter bus to the National 4-H Center located just outside of the nation’s capital. The Citizenship Washington Focus program is coordinated by Michigan State University Extension youth staff specializing in the Leadership and Civic Engagement Programs. The bus ride gives youth and adults a chance to get to know each other and prepare for the experience. Michigan 4-H Citizenship Washington Focus also includes an overnight stay in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, to tour the battlefields and explore another aspect of our nation’s history. Citizenship Washington Focus compliments the 4-H Capitol Experience, the state government experience in the state’s capitol of Lansing, Michigan.

Hands-on, experiential learning is the hallmark of 4-H programs and 4-H Citizenship Washington Focus provides an opportunity for youth to become engaged in the national government.

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