In a time when young people are often criticized for being incompetent within society, a group of young people from Wisconsin had the opportunity to prove those naysayers wrong.
Thirty-one delegates from Wisconsin 4-H clubs across the state traveled to the nation’s capital to see President Donald J. Trump be sworn into office. In what has been called one of the most controversial elections in history, these youth were front and center to witness it all.
Alexis Luedtke, a junior at Beaver Dam High School, was just one of 31 delegates from the state of Wisconsin that had the opportunity to be in Washington D.C. for the inauguration through the Citizenship Washington Focus – Presidential Inaugural program. Luedtke was one of thousands of 4-H members that had the opportunity to travel to D.C. this past summer for the Citizenship Washington Focus experience. This week-long experience allows these youth to learn about our nation’s history, see important monuments and become more familiar with how society works.
But before having even been out to Washington D.C. this summer, youth had the opportunity of a lifetime to reserve their ticket for CWF-Presidential Inauguration (CWF-PI) this March. The first 31 people who successfully reserved a spot were part of the delegation from Wisconsin that would go to the event in January. With 25 states represented, over 500 4-H youth were in attendance for the making in history.
Luedtke said that she was ready to “jump in feet first” when it comes to getting involved with the process. She credits her history teacher at school for giving her a solid background in civics and government, giving her an edge as she traveled to the inauguration. “We covered a lot of the election in class,” Luedtke said, analyzing debates, campaign speeches, candidates and more.
The week for the delegates started with learning about the election process, the media’s influence in the election, as well as how they can influence the election. Speakers were also brought in to address the group on various subjects within the political profession and educate them. Throughout the week, delegates had the opportunity to sightsee within the city, visit monuments and museums and so much more.
Throughout the week, the 500 4-H delegates ran their own election process, electing their various government officials, including their own president. Luedtke said it was, “exciting to get you to think about what goes on,” especially when it comes to presidential election years. By the end of the week, they elected all their officials and had their own inaugural ball to celebrate the successful week and election results.
“Wow” was all Luedtke could say, describing her experience witnessing Donald J. Trump be sworn in as our nation’s president. She explains how incredible the moment was in person, describing it as “patriotic,” with music being played; the red, white and blue banner hung on every corner; and the people who were there. “I am really glad to live in America,” she added.
In an effort to remember the different experiences from the week, the facilitators encouraged the youth to journal their thoughts and feelings throughout the week.
4-H provides hands-on learning and education programs for kids to build skills like responsibility, resiliency and hard work, helping them to succeed in life. This program gives youth guidance and develops their interests and skills that will help them be the leaders of the future. And as Luedtke puts it, “The more you put in, the more you get out.” The entire experience alongside the presidential inauguration allowed these youth to put to work all of the skills and knowledge they’ve gained throughout their experiences. It also allows them to learn and grow as leaders in their communities, in addition to being a more competent young person within the field of government and politics.