August 3, 2011 – Teenagers from a rural Middle Georgia county who had never traveled to Washington, D.C., took a weeklong road trip to the nation’s capital this summer. Fort Valley State University, which has a 4-H youth program, received a $10,150 grant from the National 4-H Council to cover expenses for the 2011 Citizenship Washington Focus experience.
“I learned that there are many teenagers from all over the country who are around my age that love 4-H,” said Charnisha Martin, one of five students from Twiggs County who went on the trip from July 10-16.
The nationwide 4-H youth organization holds the Citizenship Washington Focus event annually at its National 4-H Center in Chevy Chase, Md. Thousands of adolescents attend to learn the importance of civic and social responsibilities in the development of productive citizens and leaders.
“After visiting the nation’s capital, I learned that some people don’t agree on important issues that affect all of us and I learned that everyone has their own opinion,” said 14-year-old Martin, a local 4-H member for three years.
The students met their state senators and participated in workshops and assemblies designed to increase their commitment to citizen engagement. They visited the White House, Mount Vernon Arlington National Cemetery and several historical sites.
The event is an opportunity for teens to exchange ideas, learn respect and form friendships with students from diverse backgrounds, said Woodie Hughes Jr., FVSU’sinterim 4-H program leader.
“Without this grant, students wouldn’t have been able to attend this conference,” said Hughes, trip coordinator. “This opportunity was not only a cultural experience, but one that is helping to transform young people into leaders, volunteers in their communities and college graduates.”
Twiggs County High School rising sophomore Rashad Little is already planning ahead for the 4-H event next summer and says he may one day attend Fort Valley State.
“I would love the opportunity to go back to CWF event,” said Little, who has been a 4-H member for three years. “It taught me how to develop a community action plan. I learned more about American History and our nation’s presidents.”
Tonda Nelson, a Florida A&M University 4-H specialist and Hughes chaperoned students. Additional funding will be requested for a return trip to Washington, D.C. with a larger group of students.
FVSU Agricultural Communications Department