BROOKINGS, S.D. - Members of the Jones and Mellette Counties 4-H Junior Leaders group traveled to Pierre for a Legislative visit.
"It is through becoming aware of the legislative process that youth gain civic mindedness and a desire to inspire change within their community," said Kaycee Jones, SDSU Extension 4-H Youth Program Advisor for Haakon, Jackson, Jones & Mellette Counties.
The Jones and Mellette County 4-H Junior Leaders include; representing Jones County - Matthew Birkeland, Dylan Fuoss and Bridger Hight; representing Mellette County - Elisabeth Gullickson, Tyson Hill, Tashina Red Hawk and Seth Schoon.
During the one-day event, the teens gained insight into how the South Dakota state legislative process works. The youth sat in on the Joint Committee on Appropriations and Senate Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee and House Transportation Committee meetings and attended the Democratic Caucus. They were invited to sit on the House floor during session and were given a tour of the Capitol by Mary Haugaard, a Draper High School alumnus and wife of Representative Steven Haugaard.
"This trip taught me that bills take a lot of time and work to become laws," said Dylan Fuoss, a Jones County 4-H Junior Leader.
Throughout the day, many of the state's legislators took time out of their schedule to visit with the 4-H Junior Leaders. When the issue of non-meandered waters came up during the Natural Resources Committee meeting, the topic interested many of the members who are avid hunters and enjoy spending time outdoors.
"Senator Troy Heinert, who serves on the Senate Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee was able to spend time visiting with the youth following the
completion of the meeting and invited our group to the floor of the Senate chambers where he provided insight into the non-meandering water bill and also the entire legislative process," Jones explained.
Jones added that it was through the efforts of Representative James Schaefer and Speaker of the House Mark Mickelson that the youth were able to sit on the House floor during session.
"The 4-H'ers really gained an in-person, real-world view of the process of the legislative process," Jones said.
While the youth were in Pierre, they also toured the South Dakota Cultural Heritage Museum.
"This trip was fun and a great experience to learn about our government. I would recommend this trip to anyone," said Matthew Birkeland, a Jones County 4-H Junior Leader.
More about South Dakota 4-H
SDSU Extension's 4-H Youth Development Program is a partnership of federal (USDA), state (Land Grant University), and county resources through youth outreach activities of SDSU Extension. Youth learn and experience Leadership, Health and Wellness, Science and Ag-Vocacy through a network of professional staff and volunteers reaching more than 9,000 enrolled members with yearly programming efforts to an additional 35,000 youth participants.
To learn more, contact your local SDSU Extension 4-H Youth Program Advisor.
Back row: Kaycee Jones, SDSU Extension 4-H Youth Program Advisor - Haakon, Jackson, Jones & Mellette Counties. Middle Back: (left to right) Tashina Red Hawk, Bridger Hight and Seth Schoon. Middle front: (left to right) Elisabeth Gullickson and Dylan Fuoss. Front row: (left to right) Matthew Birkeland and Tyson Hill.