Hundreds of Arkansas 4-H members from across the state filled the halls of the state Capitol on March 18th, learning about leadership from members of the Legislature, the state auditor and Gov. Asa Hutchinson.
Hutchinson proclaimed that day to be Arkansas 4-H Day and recognition of the work done by the 4-H Youth Development program was made in the House and Senate as 4-H members filled the galleries. Some 400 4-H members, volunteers, parents and staff took part in the day’s events.
In an address in the rotunda, Hutchinson, himself a 4-H alumnus from Benton County, told the group that “I’ve been there in your shoes. I grew up on a farm. I might not remember the 4-H pledge very well, but I do remember my 4-H project.
“4-Hers are so vital to the civic responsibilities of our state,” Hutchinson said. “4-Hers are twice as likely to be civically involved. 4-Hers are twice as likely to be engaged in STEM education. 4-Hers are twice as likely to do better in life in terms of education and contributions to our society.”
“Thank you for what you’re going to do for the future of Arkansas,” he said.
“We are grateful to the governor, our auditor and our legislators for taking time to visit with our 4-H members and to the secretary of state for allowing us to hold our 4-H Day at the Capitol event,” said Anne Sortor, who heads up the 4-H program in Arkansas. 4-H is part of the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture Cooperative Extension Service.
The 4-H group opened its day with an orientation hosted by the Arkansas Association of Counties. There, Auditor Andrea Lea addressed the youth, asking them to vote on a series of issues that faced lawmakers in the current legislative session. After they voted, she walked them through the background of the bills in question and the result of the votes in the Legislature.
Lea acknowledged the leadership potential of the youth surrounding her, telling them: “I’m confident we have some future legislators or constitutional officers in this room.”
CAPITOL IDEAS — 4-H members got up close and personal with the state’s elected officials who asked them questions, gave them an insider’s look into the House and Senate and offered advice and encouragement to the hundreds of youth present. (photos by Ryan McGeeney.)
The group was also addressed by state Sen. Missy Irvin of Mountain View, whose children were involved in 4-H, and state Rep. Marcus Richmond of Harvey. Irvin urged members to take their leadership roles seriously. Sen. Bruce Maloch of Magnolia gave state 4-H leaders a tour of the Senate chamber.
State Rep. Nate Bell of Mena sponsored HR1023 “to recognize the positive impact of the Arkansas 4-H program on our youth and to celebration 4-H Day.” Irvin introduced and recognized 4-Hers from the
floor of the Senate.
The 4-Her’s took a tour of the Capitol before ending their day with a rain-splashed group portrait on the Capitol steps.
For more information about 4-H, contact your county extension office or visit www.uaex.edu