The nation’s capital served as the fitting backdrop for New Jersey youths to learn about government as part of the 4-H civic engagement program, Citizenship Washington Focus (CWF), held at the National 4-H Youth Conference Center in Chevy Chase, Maryland, from July 9-15. The New Jersey 4-H delegation of 19 youth and two adult chaperones attended Week 6 of the annual conference that is designed for high school youth across the U.S.
During the conference, youth got a behind-the-scenes look at the nation’s capital while meeting with members of Congress to learn more about how government works. At the end of the program, youth develop action plans to address important issues in their communities.
“CWF is a great opportunity for young people to come together, discuss the problems they see in their communities and identify solutions to make their communities stronger,” said Jeannette Rea Keywood, state 4-H agent, Rutgers Department of 4-H Youth Development, which administers the national 4-H program in New Jersey.
For the past 58 years, the National 4-H Youth Conference Center has invited 4-H members from across the country to travel to Washington, D.C. to participate in civic workshops, committees and field trips before returning home to make positive changes in their own communities.
CWF not only strengthens young people’s understanding of the government’s civic process, but it also boosts their leadership skills, communication skills and overall confidence, explained Rea Keywood.
“The experiences that young people gain during CWF give them the proper tools and confidence to become successful, articulate leaders in the future.”
The New Jersey delegates, by county, who attended the 2017 CWF conference are:
Atlantic County: Benjamin Taylor
Burlington County: Shannon McBride and Ashlynn Sharkus
Cape May County: Annabella Halbruner and Victoria McCann
Cumberland County: Jillian Tozer
Gloucester County: Lydia Dambra and Grayson Link
Hunterdon County: Joseph Coppola, Gianna Novak and Mercy Stehlin
Monmouth County: Alicia Muench
Morris County: Kristen Briney and Parris Johnson
Somerset County: Melanie Quick, Katherine Ann Gallagher, Teresa Buzzoni, Noah Rothenburger and Alexander Gonzalez.
The 4-H Youth Development Program is part of Rutgers New Jersey Agricultural Experiment Station-Cooperative Extension. 4-H educational programs are offered to all youth, grades K-13. To learn more about the New Jersey 4-H Program, visit the 4-H website.