Every year in June, Florida’s capital is flooded with green as our state’s 4-H youth participate in 4-H Legislature.

Our 4-H youths ages 13-18 travel to Tallahassee for a five-day hands-on government learning experience. They stay in Florida State University’s dorms and celebrate their hard work at the end of the week with a banquet.

The youths participate in an assigned role throughout the week to include governor, senator, representative, lobbyist, and more. It is in these roles that they fully immerse themselves in participating in our state’s government.

Prior to the event, the teenagers receive a detailed manual that includes the bills that will be debated in the capital building during the week. It is their responsibility to read the bills and be able to articulately and respectfully argue for or against the proposed laws. The bills address a multitude of issues that range from education, transportation, to natural resources. The youth propose and debate the bills from the floor all the way to signing the bills into laws.

Each legislature role that a youth can play provides a lasting experience and lesson for when the week concludes. The students learn more than the practical knowledge of how our state leaders create and pass bills. The 4-H Legislature event is a youth-run program that provides them with time management, public speaking, and debate skills.

For more information about state or local 4-H events, please contact me as follows: Katie Oakes, 4-H program assistant, 850-826-1691; koakes@ufl.edu. 

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