Youths from across the state of Florida participated in a mock legislative experience at the Florida State Capitol through the Florida 4-H Legislature event.

The 4-H'ers were able to experience the executive, legislative, and judicial branches of the Florida government in a learn-by-doing environment.

Youths played the roles of lobbyist, senator, representative, media correspondent, governor, or lieutenant governor throughout the week-long affair. The 4-H Legislature event is planned almost a year in advance by a youth-led 4-H Legislature Planning Committee, which manages the event and provides leadership to the other youths.

Members not on the committee still had the opportunity to play a vital role in the planning process by writing proposed bills. These proposed bills were presented to the youths who sponsored, amended, and lobbied each bill before it was debated on the House and Senate floors.

Lobbyists, typically first-year participants, had the unique opportunity to visit the Museum of Florida History, be pages, and/or participate in mock trials at the Florida Supreme Court.

Youths practiced life skills such as learning and defending a theory, debating and analyzing legislation, public speaking, respecting others’ opinions, and many more life skills during the event.

Email me, twilken@ufl.edu, or call the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences Okaloosa County Extension Office, 689-5850, to find out more about our 4-H.

Taylor Wilken is an agent at the University of Florida's Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences Extension office in Crestview.