By SAMANTHA GRENROCK,
GAINESVILLE — The Florida State Capitol will be a sea of clover green on March 23 when approximately 500 4-H youth visit with state representatives and senators, and learn about the legislative process firsthand.
The day will include a group photo in front of the Historic Capitol building, a speech from Florida Commissioner of Agriculture Adam Putnam, meetings with state legislatures and a tour of the Capitol complex.
“This is a very special event and one that is very near to my heart,” said Chris DeCubellis, associate state program leader for the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences Extension 4-H youth development program. “The idea of providing a framework in which young people can interact directly with their elected officials is an exciting prospect.”
Students will learn much from a firsthand look at government, DeCubellis said.
“This 4-H program provides an outstanding opportunity for our young people to understand how our government works and how their voices can be appropriately heard at the highest levels,” DeCubellis said. “We want our 4-H members to go on to be contributing members of their society, and this is an example of a program that helps youth on that positive journey.”
Interacting with elected officials shows youth that their voices and ideas matter, said Gabriela Sullivan, Florida 4-H state council president.
“The most rewarding part is having the opportunity to speak to my representatives about 4-H and its benefits on behalf of the more than 190,000 4-H youth in the state of Florida,” Sullivan said. “We will talk to them about the positive impact 4-H has had on our lives and shaped us into the people we are today. We will also talk about how 4-H reaches youth from all walks of life and how it turns ordinary people into tomorrow’s leaders.”
All attending youth are encouraged to make an appointment ahead of time with their representative. They must call and make arrangements themselves, giving them a chance to practice communication skills and professionalism.
“I plan to tell them what an influence they have on the state of Florida and the 4-H program as a whole,” said Josh Daniels, 4-H chairman of 4-H Day at the Capitol. “I also want them to know how grateful we are to have them serving us in the legislative process.”
Daniels has visited the Capitol several times as a 4-H member and is excited for other youth to have the same opportunity. “My favorite part of my visits was getting to sit in on a real legislative session,” he said.
Speeches and group photos will begin at 9 a.m. in front of the Historic Capitol building. Meetings and tours will take place between 10 and 11:30 a.m. and after 1 p.m. Youth will also participate in a scavenger hunt in the Capitol complex, documenting what they learn on Instagram with the hashtags #4HEveryWhere and #4HToTally.