Students learn about good government at 4-H Capitol Experience

More than 80 teens from across the state experienced and explored various aspects of policy, civic engagement and leadership at the annual 4-H Capitol Experience, March 22-25. High school students gathered in Lansing to begin learning from and interacting with state senators and representatives, chaperones and other youth participants.

Over the four-day event, youth participated in a nine-hour Michigan legislative simulation, which required teens to research and propose Senate and House bills, conduct House and Senate leadership position elections, participate in legislative committee meetings, debate and vote on bills, and see their bills signed into law by an acting governor.

In addition to the structured simulation, participants observed actual House and Senate sessions, and visited community and state agencies, lobbyists and legislative aides.

Involvement in Michigan 4-H and Capitol Experience helps foster skills of leadership and involvement in youth. These experiences can be very beneficial in the development of this age group, said Darren Bagley, Michigan State University Extension educator.

“Youth learn how to make the world a better place,” Darren said. “Youth have a unique perspective on the world, they see the world in a way no other group can—they’re free from the cynicism of many adults, and they can use that positivity to make a difference in the world.”

4-H Capitol Experience provides youth with tools, experience and guidance to prepare teens for college and the working world. Objectives of this event include helping youth increase communication, teamwork, citizenship, leadership and skills to help them transition to college and life as an adult; allowing teens to expand career and personal interests while discovering how to be actively involved in influencing policy decisions; and providing youth tools to explore policy issues that may affect individuals and communities.

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