Instead of sleeping in and hanging out with friends this past summer, five outstanding students from Morgan High School hung out at the National Capitol Building and made friends from all over the country as they took part in Citizenship Washington Focus (CWF), the pre-eminent 4-H citizenship and leadership experience for 4-H youth.
Verl Johanson, Carson Hatch, Carter Sanders, Juliana Little and Aspen Francis spent a week in July learning, competing and having fun in Washington D.C. The group was selected from members of the Morgan 4-H Teen Council and had to go through an application process.
Verl, Carson, Carter, Juliana and Aspen were able to learn civic leadership skills. Through engaging activities, they developed their understanding about what it takes to be a good citizen and leader. They were challenged to see how they fit into their world and to make a positive impact in our community when they returned home.
The delegates work to develop a community action plan that they will put into place when they leave the camp and return home. The Morgan group knows there is a need at Morgan High for soft skills in the job-seeking process. Their plan is to implement a camp for MHS students to learn those skills including job interview, writing resumes, completing job applications and others similar areas of focus. They plan to have a professional come teach these skills and then to have contests where students can compete to win prizes and titles.
While in Washington, the 4-H delegates were able to choose to serve on one of six committees including health, communication, talent, government, open-mindedness, or responsibility. These committees allowed the delegates to be involved and tailor their experience based on their interests. The Morgan delegates split up and each chose a different committee to be involved with.
“I chose to be a part of (the responsibility committee) because I knew that as 4-H Teen Council president, I really needed to be involved in the community service project that we brought back,” Verl Johanson said. “What better way is there to be involved than by leading the project?”
This teen leader learned a lot about leadership through his experiences at CWF. He plans to become more active in his leadership, rather than delegating all the time.
“Because of my experience at CWF I will now seek to educate my peers and fellow leaders on some of the problems we may have in the club, quorum or community and then ask them for their input and perspective after giving them time to research he problem,” Verl added.
Aspen worked with the talent committee. “I learned about the amount of work that goes into a simple production, and I also saw the performers’ side because I chose to do that as well.”
Carter participated in the healthy living committee because he wanted to try something new and have a unique experience. He worked with his committee to plan a derby day where they planned games for the entire group.
JJ joined the open-mindedness committee. “I decided to join this focus group because you have conversations on problems we face today and how we can overcome them,” she said. “We talked about problems like teen pregnancies, abortion, DUIs and drug use in school.
“It was really cool because we had debates whether to pass legislative bills or not such as GMOs, gun control, city beautification, etc.,” JJ explained. “It was an eye-opener to listen to everybody and see different perspectives on the various issues.”
“Now I have solid opinions on controversial subjects, but I also can see and respect the opinions of the opposing side,” Aspen stated.
“It’s hard to choose a favorite part for CWF, but if I had to choose, my favorite was going around to see all the monuments for Washington, D.C.,” Carter said of the trip.
The group was able to visit some of the most famous Washington monuments and memorials, Capitol Hill, Library of Congress, Mount Vernon, Arlington, Smithsonian Museums and other D.C. area sites.
The students all came away with a greater understanding and interest of what it takes to be a good citizen.
JJ explained, “I have gained more knowledge about how our government works and it makes me more interested. Now I desire to learn more about what it takes to participate as a citizen in my community, state and nation.”