"Making the Best Better" is the 4-H motto. On April 17th, 2019, 4-H members did just that by visiting the Oklahoma State Capitol and learning not only how the state's government works, but also getting one-on-one time with their senators and representatives, sharing the impact 4-H has statewide. Oklahoma 4-H was represented by 128 members from 49 counties in the 22nd Annual Oklahoma 4-H Day at the Capitol. Pottawatomie county was represented by members/State 4-H Ambassadors Hadley Griffith, Kyleigh Merrick, and Morley Griffith. For both Morley and Kyleigh, this was their first time to attend and experience the event, alongside veteran attendee and senior 4-H'er Hadley.
"This annual event brings 4-H members from across the state together to meet with legislators, learn about the political process and gives our members a chance to talk about the 4-H program." said Katie Miller, Pottawatomie County 4-H Extension Educator. Cathleen Taylor, state leadership and citizenship specialist with the State 4-H Office at Oklahoma State University, said not only is this a learning opportunity for the club members, it also gives state leaders a chance to learn first-hand more about 4-H and OSU Cooperative Extension. "Some of our governmental officials weren't in 4-H when they were younger, so this is a great opportunity for our state leaders to hear first-hand about the positive impact 4-H has on Oklahoma's youth," Taylor said.
To start the day, the youth gathered at the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife auditorium where they received a warm welcome from J.D. Strong, the director of the department. Next, participants heard greetings from Representative Dell Kerbs, Chair of the House Ag and Rural Development Committee, and Casey Murdock, Chair of the Senate Agriculture and Wildlife Committee. Following the direction of state 4-H program leaders, members then entered the Capitol and to help legislators gain a better understanding of what 4-H'ers are doing across the state, the club members were able to eat lunch with their respective senators and representatives. Kyleigh Merrick visited with Senator Ron Sharp; Morley Griffith visited with Representative Dell Kerbs; and Hadley Griffith visited with Senator Darrell Weaver.
After lunch, 4-H members gathered for a photo with Governor Kevin Stitt. Gov. Kevin Stitt was glad to have the group at the capitol. "4-H is a great organization and it's fantastic for them to visit and learn how laws are made," Stitt said. "These are our future leaders - I want them to dream big and I want to inspire them."
While at the Capitol, the group had the opportunity to visit both the House and Senate Galleries where a proclamation was read declaring April 17th, 2019 4-H Day at the Capitol. In addition, Trent Gibbs, Stephens County 4-H'er and president of the State Leadership Council, and J'Kai Johnson of Langston 4-H, spoke on the House and Senate Floor.
To conclude the day, participants had closing remarks and discussion with Secretary and Commissioner of Agriculture, Blayne Arthur. "This is such a great opportunity for our youth to let our senators and representatives know what is going on in 4-H around the state," Arthur said. "Having that one-on-one dialogue with the 4-H'ers from their particular county or district is important. They learn a lot about what our 4-H'ers are doing and it's an opportunity to highlight the caliber of 4-H members we have in the program."
For more information about getting involved in 4-H, please contact the Pottawatomie County OSU Extension office at (405) 273-7683 or visit us at 14001 Acme Road in Shawnee.