Citizenship Washington Focus teaches leadership, citizenship, and responsibility

National 4-H … Comments

4-H members participate in week-long educational event in Washington, DC

The Kansas 4-H delegation recently returned from Citizenship Washington Focus, a five-day event that exposes them to the nation’s Capitol. (Photo courtesy of K-State Research and Extension News)

MANHATTAN, Kansas – At a time when many are worried about the future of our country, it can be comforting to know that young people are being groomed to become future leaders.

The National 4-H Council recently hosted Citizenship Washington Focus, an event that teaches youth about leadership, citizenship, the legislative process and our nation’s history. CWF is held for several weeks each summer, although each state usually sends a group for just under a week.

“CWF’s National 4-H Program is a unique and lasting experience for 4-H.” said Daniel Skuchus, youth development agent for Pottawatomie County 4-H and accompanying the Kansas group for the first time this year. “The program brings together 4-H youth delegations from around the country throughout the summer for five days. Programs consist of experiential learning in leadership and citizenship while experiencing Washington, DC”

Through this trip, students learn not only about government and leadership, but for many, it is their first opportunity to be independent and learn responsibility.

“I think it’s been valuable (for Kansas 4-H members) because of the wide range of experiences they’ve gotten in such a short amount of time and the responsibility that’s been placed on them,” Skuchus said. “Never before have most of them had the experience of being ‘on their own’ for 10 days, entrusted with making decisions as young leaders.”

Riley County 4-Her Morgan Dysberger said she “originally decided I wanted to go to CWF because I thought it would be a super cool experience to see DC, and it was. I loved seeing all the monuments and memorials and learning about different aspects of them was so cool.

However, one of her favorite things, she said, wasn’t even in the nation’s Capitol. “It was a stop we made on the way. Gettysburg really fascinated me. Being able to walk around and see where the Battle of Gettysburg took place was so cool and it gives you a whole new perspective.”

“I was really nervous before the trip because I didn’t know anyone who was going, but I ended up making some really good friends. It was a bit difficult for me when I was gone for 10 days, but once I started making friends, the time started to fly by faster.’

While the children were having fun and learning, Scutius said that it was also enjoyable for the adults to watch the youth gain new experiences.

“I will always remember how much the Holocaust museum affected our youth,” he said. “I appreciated their ability to really look into such an important but emotionally charged museum as they sought to understand all of the information and historical artifacts contained within. The museum was really impressive and you could tell it touched a lot of people.”

However, the purpose of the trip is not only for the youth to have fun and learn about DC trivia, Scutius said. The aim is for them to return with the skills and confidence they need to become future leaders.

“Simply getting a first-hand lesson in citizenship, leadership and democracy in such an important place will go a long way in helping them move forward,” Skuchus said. “I think having that experience in DC will help them be more skilled and focused on those life skills down the road.”

More information about the opportunities available through Kansas 4-H is available at local extension offices in Kansas.

— Annika Wiebers, K-State Research and Extension News Service Citizenship Washington Focus teaches leadership, citizenship, and responsibility

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