West Bend, WI – March 24, 2014
One hundred years later, 4-H in Wisconsin is still going strong. That was evident when over 850 4-Hers and adult supporters—including 16 delegates from Washington County—surged on the capitol last Wednesday to promote the program and celebrate its centennial.
4-H is a nationwide youth development program founded on the missions of the land grant universities that were established in 1862. The program teaches youth leadership, citizenship, and life skills.
“The 4-H Day at the Capitol was a unique opportunity for Washington County 4-H youth and volunteers to visit the heart of Wisconsin’s government,” said Brianna Stapleton Welch, 4-H Youth Development Educator for the UW-Extension Washington County. “Our county’s delegates were eager to speak with legislators about the impact of 4-H and be engaged citizens. They were outstanding representatives of Washington County!”
And represent they did! Holding true to the 4-H motto, “To Make the Best Better,” Washington County’s 12 youth delegates, four adult delegates, and two UW-Extension staff members met with legislators and staffers from three county constituents to share their stories and lobby for support of 4-H.
“It was important for them to hear our stories to learn about an aspect of their state that they may not have known about,” said delegate Khia Kurtenbach, age 17, and a member of the Freistadt 4-H Friends club.
“Their actions affect us and our clubs,” Kurtenbach added. “We want them to know we appreciate their support of such a positive organization.”
One lawmaker who didn’t need any encouragement was state Representative Pat Strachota, R-West Bend. Strachota even started her career close to the heart of Washington County 4-H; she once worked at the Washington County Department of Human Resources, which resides across the street from the UW-Extension office where the county 4-H program is based.
When Strachota met with the delegation, she eagerly listened to the stories the youth had to tell. She encouraged them to keep being leaders, and that their community involvement can lead them far.
“I’m very lucky to represent the community,” Strachota said. “And you have to remember that we’re just like you.”
In addition to meeting with legislators, the delegates also rallied with 4-Hers from around the state. Representative Melissa Sargent, D-Madison, began the day with a legislative proclamation to commemorate the centennial.
After the opening ceremony of speakers, songs, and history, a sea of delegates dressed in various shades of green surged on the capitol and filled the rotunda for a final rally and celebration before each delegation disbursed to speak with their legislators.
All in all, it was a day the delegates won’t soon forget.
“It was full circle for me and my time with Washington County 4-H, said delegate Kristie Kurtenbach, an adult leader from the Friestadt 4-H Friends club. “What a great way to mark the 100 year birthday.”
Washington County currently boasts 280 adult volunteers and 748 youth members. To learn more about 4-H, go to http://washington.uwex.edu/4-h-youth-development.
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