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N.D. 4-H Civic Engagement Event Expands

NDSU Extension’s Leadership Awareness Weekend for youth will be held Feb. 16-18.

North Dakota State University Extension’s Leadership Awareness Weekend (LAW) for youth has transformed from a two-day program to a three-day mega event.

“LAW combines the best of the Civic U program’s parliamentary procedure activities and contests with the engaging government events of Citizenship in Action, where youth take part in leadership activities, learn about our government and spend a day at the North Dakota Capitol,” says Sue Quamme, a 4-H youth development specialist in NDSU Extension’s Center for 4-H Youth Development.

This year’s LAW will be held Feb. 16-18 at the Burleigh County 4-H Building and state Capitol in Bismarck, N.D.

“Besides a new name and an additional day, this year’s event includes parliamentary procedure activities and a contest, engaging speakers and a service project,” Quamme says.

“North Dakota youth are viewed as less civically engaged with their communities and state,” she notes. “This is troubling news because communities see positive changes when youth and adults are engaged as leaders and volunteers.”

Amelia Doll, an Extension agent in Burleigh County, agrees.

“Increasing the understanding of the governmental process creates a more engaged populous who will continue to be engaged throughout their years,” she says.

“North Dakota 4-H can help change this by giving youth hands-on experiences that educate and excite them about government, leadership and service work,” she adds. “Leadership Awareness Weekend works to build these skills.”

For Nora Larson, a 4-H’er from Adams County and North Dakota 4-H Ambassador, attending Citizenship in Action (CIA) two years ago was a worthwhile experience.

“CIA gave me the opportunity to tour the North Dakota state Capitol and meet with my legislators,” she says. “I even got to sit on the Senate floor while bills were being discussed. It was really interesting to witness the legislative process in action.”

Larson’s exposure to the workings of the state Legislature led her to testify before a North Dakota legislative committee.

“After the event, I was motivated to become more active in my club, community and state,” she says.

Lauren Hinckley, a 4-H Ambassador from Morton County, also learned lessons and found inspiration from attending Citizenship in Action.

“I’ve actually gone on to vote, and I’ve been more passionate about learning and creating my own educated opinion on important issues our society faces,” she says.

Larson and Hinckley made friends with other like-minded youth throughout the state and continued to take on greater leadership roles as 4-H Ambassadors. Hinckley also uses her civic engagement skills to run a nonprofit event in North Dakota.

4-H leadership activities such as Citizenship in Action also have benefited communities. Two former Mercer County 4-H youth who had attended the program were inspired to create a food drive for a local food pantry in 2012. They held the drive during a highly attended basketball game between two high school rivals. The drive has become an annual event sponsored by the 4-H Ambassadors in the county.

Contact an Extension agent in your county or visit the North Dakota 4-H website at https://www.ndsu.edu/4h/ to learn more about or register for LAW or other 4-H events.

NDSU Agriculture Communication - Jan. 23, 2019

Source:Sue Quamme, 701-231-5923, susan.quamme@ndsu.edu
Editor:Ellen Crawford, 701-231-5391, ellen.crawford@ndsu.edu
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