RALEIGH — While not all citizens leave a meeting with an elected official happy with the results, 14-year-old Rebecca Cahall gave a positive review to her recent interaction with state Rep. Sarah Stevens, R-90.
“It was really fun to meet her,” said Cahall, who, along with Laken Williams, met with Stevens during the 2016 4-H Citizenship North Carolina Focus held in Raleigh on June 13 to 15.
The annual conference provides a hands-on opportunity to learn not only how government works but how citizens can be an effective part of the process.
Cahall and Williams were selected to represent Surry County at the conference this year, joining more than 100 teenagers from 4-H clubs throughout the state.
Whitney Collins, the local Cooperative Extension agent in charge of 4-H, noted that it was the first time delegates from the county had attended in several years.
“They are very active in 4-H County Council and Project Record Book,” Collins said.
Both local delegates have been busy with those activities, helping to plan 4-H programs for the summer, teaching workshops and organizing civic projects such as a toiletry drive for a senior citizens home.
Attending the conference helps take that bent toward leadership to the next level.
The agenda for the three-day conference themed “iMatter: Choice, Character and Conviction” consisted of speakers, workshops and interaction of government officials.
The gathering also includes social events, giving the teenagers a chance to make new friends with 4-H’ers from other areas of the state.
Delegates were required to set up their own meeting with one of their elected officials.
To help make those meetings successful, sessions were aimed at helping the delegates figure out what they wanted to discuss with the legislators, how to contact them and how to communicate clearly and confidently.
For Cahall, meeting Stevens was the highlight.
“I learned things about the way it works around there, and how her schedule goes,” said the rising North Surry High School freshman.
Stevens said she also learned from the delegates.
“I always thought 4-H was farming and showing animals,” the representative said.
“They were very excited about their program and they clearly are benefiting from this. It was a real pleasure to meet them.”
Collins explained that citizenship is an important part of the 4-H mission.
“The purpose of 4-H is for them to develop life skills,” she said. “A lot of kids don’t understand how local government operates.”
Merely learning about something might not have the same impact, Collins continued.
“The hands-on, life experience, getting to do is what makes 4-H different,” she said.
Reach Terri Flagg at 415-4734.