Shelby Brawner, Extension Assistant/Grant Manager
This past July a group of 14 4-H members and 4 agents/ volunteers attended Citizenship Washington Focus in Chevy Chase, Maryland at the 4-H Center. This event is 4-H’s premier leadership and citizenship program for high school students. CWF participants are able to en- joy a behind-the-scenes look at our nation’s capital and have a chance to meet members of Congress. In addition, they work on developing their communication, leadership, and citizenship skills through hands-on learning and group activities. And of course – they build new and lasting friendships!
Have a quick read through some of the 4-H’ers experiences!
Gareth Eller, Robertson County
“I learned a lot about our government and how it works. I also was able to learn about different religions, beliefs, and thinking processes. I was able to speak with the other delegates, and learn about why they think that way. One day we were able to go to the National Smithsonian of American History, and I was able to see and do things I never thought of being able to do. Another day, we did this thing called organized madness. It was where we set up a bunch of different games and fun events at the conference center and played all afternoon. Another day, we went to all the major monuments and were able to see things for the first time. If it weren’t for this trip, I would have not seen these monuments and been able to experience the amazing things that I was able to. I am thankful that we had the great chaperones that we had and provided us with direction. I was able to speak with them and learn different things. I am thankful that I was selected to attend. I also learned that Tennessee has best 4-H program in the United States of America!”
LauraBeth Morgan, Rutherford County
“My week at CWF was nothing short of an adventure; It was an experience unlike I’d ever imagined and there’s nothing I wouldn’t give to get the chance to go again! From the airport to the 4-H center, every moment felt like something out of a storybook. We explored Washington D.C. and found ourselves diving right into a history book, seeing all the memorials and state buildings that most of us had only ever read about! Visiting the Thomas Jefferson Memorial was something else for me, as it has always been my favorite memorial. Even though its state is less than superb (cobwebs have started to grow on the statue and the walls are stained), it will always have a special place in my heart.
While I’d been to Washington D.C. twice before, something I’d never done (And always wished to do) was go to the National Cathedral. The stained glass windows and beautiful architecture looked like it came right out of a fairy tale, and that’s not even counting what the inside looked like! I had no idea there was a statue of George Washington inside, or known that Helen Keller resided in the crypt downstairs! The amount of detail in the building and the scrutinizing touches that went into the design was just thrilling to see in person, and I never would have gotten the chance to see it had it not been for 4-H. Though the memorials and the buildings were jaw- dropping, what I most enjoyed were the people I went on the trip with, and those that guided us as we explored D.C. There was never a moment of boredom with my delegation, and we were told numerous times by several different people that we were their favorite group so far. I loved our PA’s and, had it not been for them, the trip would have been utterly dull and lackluster. Not to say our chaperones weren’t interesting enough; The amount of times I had to sing Rocky Top attest to that! Thanks to them, we participated in the talent show, and really did enjoy our time on stage and around D.C. All in all, every person I met and every tour guide, bus driver, or chaperone made CWF what I believe it was meant to be; One of the defining moments, if not the defining moment, of my high school experience. I can’t thank any one of them enough for giving me the chance to go on this trip, and I only hope that the experience was as wonderful for them as it was for me!”
Shelbie Manus, Smith County
I had a wonderful time at CWF! It was an honor to be selected to attend. Although I had been to Washington D.C. before, we saw many things that were new to me. I enjoyed seeing all the monuments, the Museum of Natural History, and the Holocaust Museum. It would be difficult to pick my favorite since I en- joyed it all, but if I had to, I’d choose the Capitol. I was re- minded of its beauty and part in our history from the tour, and meeting our Congressional representatives was some- thing I’ll never forget. I wasn’t just watching them through my television screen in my small town, but I was actually standing there having a conversation. What an opportunity! We also enjoyed many good meals. I had heard from other 4-H’ers that the Clover Cafe had delicious food, especially the soft serve ice cream. They were right! Founding Farmers and Pi Pizzeria provided not just good food but experiences as well. Of course, I must mention D.C. Cupcakes are yummy. The dinner theater was a first for me. “Momma Mia” is one of my favorites anyways. In my community, there are very few restaurants and so everyone cooks at home, so dining out was a real treat. The workshops were also really fun. The “Health Rocks!” workshop was very enjoyable for me since I’m interested in health related topics. I liked meeting the group that is doing a great health project and competing with it. It was empowering to be a part of teenagers discussing and planning on making positive changes and improvements.
I like being a part of shaping the future as an individual and team. Like any 4-H event I’ve ever attended, the people are amazing. On this trip, I met many new friends. The National 4-H Center provides a great place to mingle and meet people from all areas of the USA. I’m still communicating with friends from other states through texting and social media. It wasn’t just friends from far away that I enjoyed. Our Tennessee delegation became a family. I loved our nightly meetings on the “Big Comfy Couch.” Our fearless leaders, Oakley and Mrs. Mary Beth, taught me many valuable lessons and made the trip fun. I also made friends with the Dyer County, Tennessee folks. They are really sweet people. I’m glad they joined us in singing “Rocky Top” at the talent show. I loved all the PA’s. They do a great job. I’d heard my parents talk about CWF all my life. My Dad attended as a Georgia 4-Her in 1980, and my Mom as a Tennessee 4- Her in 1982. Now, I know why they still share their fond memories. I’m forever changed. I now consider what I can do to make positive changes because although only 16 years old, I can start the movement. I have more blessings of friends and memories. Words can’t express my appreciation for this opportunity.”