The Citizenship Washington Focus trip is a 4-H leadership program for high school youth, grades 10-12, from across the country. Every summer, nearly 1,600 young people stay at the National 4-H Youth Conference Center, near Washington, D.C., to participate in this week-long program, which allows participants to learn the importance of civic and social responsibilities as they relate to the development of better citizens and leaders.
Approximately 150 Iowa 4-H youth will have the opportunity to attend this leadership program June 8-16, 2012. Participants' week will consist of workshops, speakers, committee work, field trips and social events.
Clay County 4-H members Zack Lear, Bradi Baschke, Drew Buenger, Katelynn Launderville, Leah Postma, Savannah Krause, Emily Elliott and Jessica Mills took part in the June 2010 leadership trip and program.
"We all had something in common," Baschke said. "We were all in 4-H."
"One of the main things I got out of it was how the government is involved with what we do and how they're trying to improve things too -- because they're trying to make better citizens today for better leaders tomorrow," Lear added.
The two Spencer High School seniors, who are both presidents of their respective 4-H clubs and members of the Clay County 4-H Youth Council, encourage other area 4-H members to sign up for the 2012 trip. Besides bringing back valuable ideas, the experience encouraged both Lear and Baschke to step up, be active, take charge and become better leaders.
"It's a learning experience where, through involvement with the community, you show your own leadership," Baschke advocated.
The high school students saw Congress in session at the Capitol. Besides traveling to the nation's Capitol, where they met Senator Charles Grassley, the group toured sites such as the: White House, Pentagon, Mount Vernon, Washington Monument, Supreme Court, Library of Congress, Arlington National Cemetery, Holocaust Museum, National Cathedral, National Archives and Smithsonian museums.
In addition, they visited the Lincoln, Thomas Jefferson, World War II, Iwo Jima, Korean Conflict, Franklin D. Roosevelt and Vietnam Veterans memorials. The delegation also rode the Washington Metro, spent time at the National Zoo and saw a production of "Shear Madness" at the Kennedy Center.
"One of the major things we did was learn how a bill becomes a law," Lear recalled. "Everyone on the trip got split up into a bill committee or a House committee, and then we had a mock legislative session and discussion."
2010 Citizenship Washington Focus participants debated whether students should be required to participate in physical education classes during the school day.
* Potential participants are encouraged to register for the 2012 trip by Thursday, Dec. 15. Questions about the Citizenship Washington Focus trip may be answered by stopping at the Clay County Extension office and visiting with Anissa Jepsen, the Clay County youth coordinator, or by visiting the online addresses: www.extension.iastate.edu/4h and www.extension.iastate.edu/4h/cwf.