Youth leadership experience through 4-H

4-H provides opportunities for young people to learn and apply parliamentary procedure.

The gavel strikes three times to gain order and a voice booms out the meeting will come to order. The state senate? Congress? No, this scene takes place regularly at 4-H club meetings around the country. Young people are learning the basics of parliamentary procedure and running effective meetings and practicing those skills.  According to Michigan State University Extension, over five million youth from around country experience 4-H in a “learn by doing” atmosphere.

Through 4-H clubs, youth are elected into officer positions and learn the functions of those roles. Elections are held and offices of president, vice-president, secretary and treasurer are filled. Other offices may include historian, recreation leader, reporter and others as needed. Club members are nominated and elected by their fellow club members and run the business portion of their meeting. Club members learn how to move the discussion into a decision through voting. Through these experiences, youth not only learn how to run 4-H clubs, they are learning how to lead local, state and national government meetings.

Another opportunity that teaches leadership and citizenship skills is the Citizenship Washington Focus Program (CWF). Each year 4-H delegations from many states spend a week in Washington D.C. learning about the history and the operation of our country’s government. While at the National 4-H Center right outside of D.C., CWF participants learn about national government by observing senate and house in session, attending hearings and meeting with legislators. Participants also have learning sessions to practice creating and debating bills as they attempt to pass them during mock legislative sessions. Participants learn about the historical memorials and other sites in the D.C. area as they visit all of the major sites. Many other state and national opportunities are available to young people through 4-H. To learn about these opportunities, visit the Michigan 4-H website.

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