Two 4-H students from New York State attended the annual National 4-H Conference in Washington D.C. in April.
Isabella Fantauzzi from Saratoga County and Jazmin Martin from Erie County participated in work groups with youth from across the country, briefed federal officials, toured government offices and landmarks and met with members of Congress.
Alan M. Martinez, 4-H accounts administrator, and Jamila Walida Simon, 4-H civic engagement specialist, accompanied the youth on the trip.
“National 4‑H Conference is the pinnacle experience in 4‑H civic engagement, providing the opportunity for young people to connect, learn, engage, lead and impact their communities, their nation and their world,” Martinez said.
Fantauzzi and Martin each had the opportunity to chose an important societal topic affecting today’s youth, and then work with other youth from across the nation to explore how 4-H can help address the issue. Fantanuzzi worked on Next Generation Agriculture Roundtable and Martin worked on School Safety Roundtable.
At the conference, both participants prepared a briefing and presented it to federal and met with their member of Congress with the help of Cornell’s Federal Relations Department to share their 4-H story and show the impact of 4-H programming.
“Our youth are leaders today,” Walida Simon said. “In an effort to live into this mission, the NYS 4-H Youth Development program creates experiences for youth to engage with legislators. Today’s youth leaders make time to engage locally and give back to their communities. Politically, youth make the same investment by making legislators aware of their concerns and ways in which they can be supported. In this way our mission becomes a reality.”
Fantauzzi said attending the conference made her really how important her voice can be in the political process.
“Sometimes in today’s world, we spend so much time not listening that we forget what we have to say is still relevant,” she said. “At the conference, I was able to work with a very strong group of 4-H youth, where we all had the opportunity to share our ideas and opinions. Because my entire group was so open to learning new things our presentation was able to be diverse within its topic.”
Fantauzzi said her group, which focused on the next generation of youth in agriculture, included diverse members from across the country who were all able to hear each other’s stories and ideas.
“It was an amazing experience to listen to my roundtables and to be heard by them as well,” she said. “Because of the conference, I have been motivated to work harder and promote agriculture and 4-H to whoever will listen and even those who won’t. Thanks to the 4-H National Conference, I can see the big picture now and have a better understanding of my country and the struggles we are facing and what I can do to fix them.”