BROOKINGS, S.D. - Teens elected to serve in the South Dakota 4-H Legislature were able to experience how the state government functions as part of the inaugural South Dakota 4-H Legislative Session held October 31 at the State Capitol in Pierre.
The 17 teens currently serving in the South Dakota 4-H Legislature participated in the mock legislative session, which featured most of the elements of the real South Dakota Legislature, including mock committee meetings, caucus gatherings, public testimony and floor debate.
Kayle Lauck, a South Dakota 4-H Legislator from McCook County, said she appreciated learning about how a legislative session is conducted from the beginning of the campaign process all the way to passing bills.
“I enjoyed interacting with other members from across the state and hearing their ideas on how to improve the 4-H program for our state,” Lauck said. “There were a lot of brilliant ideas presented and I was able to gain a lot of fun and beneficial experiences.”
Teigen Hadrick, a South Dakota 4-H Legislator from Faulk County, said what he most enjoyed about participating in the legislative session was getting to see and work through all the bills and concerns people had about 4-H.
“I learned a lot about how the Legislature works from parliamentary procedure to how bills are passed and how people voted.”
According to Hilary Risner, SDSU Extension Regional 4-H Youth Program Advisor, the South Dakota 4-H Legislature provides a state-level civic and governmental education program allowing participants an opportunity to gain a better understanding of how the state government operates while strengthening youth voice opportunities for the SDSU Extension 4-H Youth Development Program.
In order to provide youth with the opportunity to learn more about how the state legislative process works, many aspects of the program mimic how the legislative branch of South Dakota state government is conducted through two main roles: candidates/legislators and constituents. Legislative candidates include senior age division 4-H members interested in the program’s civic engagement and leadership opportunities. This summer, those candidates collected petition signatures, ran a campaign and encouraged fellow 4-Hers to cast their vote in the election.
All enrolled South Dakota 4-H members serve as constituents to the program, with duties including signing petitions, voting, voicing their concerns to their elected legislators and observing the legislative process.
After being selected in June, legislators participated in a series of webinars covering topics important to the legislative process, such as committee and caucus work, bill writing and house floor processes.
“Following participation in the webinars, legislators wrote bills pertaining to the improvement of South Dakota 4-H,” Risner said. “Some examples of bill topics include an act to reestablish the South Dakota 4-H Premier Livestock Exhibitor program at the South Dakota State Fair 4-H exhibition and an act to create a Junior Emergency Medical (EMR) course as a partnership with 4-H and local emergency management services to promote workforce opportunities in health service fields.”
These bills and 24 others were presented in committee meetings during the 2020 South Dakota 4-H Legislative Session. Legislators heard proponent and opponent testimony for each of the bills, assisting them in fully understanding the potential effects of the bills. If a bill made it out of committee, it was discussed on the house floor during the mock legislative session. Legislators then passed or failed the remaining bills, with a total of 14 bills passing on the house floor during the mock session.
“I have always had an interest in our nation and state's government and I thought that this would be a perfect opportunity to learn from first-hand experiences,” Lauck said. “As a legislator, I have learned how to run for office, write bills, the importance of the legislative system, as well as the importance of advocating for an organization I care about.”
The 17 teens currently serving in the South Dakota 4-H Legislature participated in a mock legislative session, which featured most of the elements of the real South Dakota Legislature, including mock committee meetings, caucus gatherings, public testimony and floor debate.
Hundreds of South Dakota 4-H members made their voices heard by voting on the candidates they wanted to represent them during the elections held June 15-19, 2020. The following individuals were selected as South Dakota 4-H Representatives to represent their communities and the state:
- Turner County: Representative Shane Rist
- Tripp County: Representative Meagan Blare
- Sanborn County: Representative Bailey Feistner
- Pennington County: Representative Kaitlynn Wellman
- McCook County: Representative Kayle Lauck
- Marshall County: Representative Taylor Storbakken
- Jones County: Representative Brianna Smith
- Hutchinson County: Representative Aaron Baumiller
- Hanson County: Representative Quinton Berg
- Faulk County: Representative Teigen Hadrick
- Fall River County: Representative Zikia Fleming
- Davison County: Representative Logan Tlam
- Clay County: Representative Nicholas Havermann
- Buffalo/Jerauld: Representative Carissa Scheel
- Brule County: Representative Isabelle Mairose
- Brown County: Representative Tessa Erdmann
- Brookings County: Representative Emily Robbins
- Aurora County: Representative Cally Faulhaber
- At Large: Representative Grace DiGiovanni, Turner County
- At Large: Representative Ryan Sell, Tripp County
- At Large: Representative Kendall Dehn, Pennington County
- At Large: Representative Hadley Stiefvater, McCook County
- At Large: Representative Carter Effling, Marshall County
- At Large: Representative Amber Potter, Faulk County
- At Large: Representative Harlee Heim, Buffalo/Jerauld Counties
“We are excited to see what the future holds for this program, as there are truly so many innovative ways to incorporate hands-on learning experiences through the South Dakota 4-H Legislature,” Risner said.
About South Dakota 4-H
South Dakota 4-H enables youth to be engaged in partnerships with caring adults, positive learning environments, developing their fullest potential and learning life skills. Throughout the SDSU Extension 4-H Youth Development program, we value youth, families, and communities; partnerships and coalitions that work for the betterment of youth in our state, and combined strength of local programming in cooperation with the land-grant university, South Dakota State University; every child’s individuality and uniqueness; diversity and an inclusive environment that assures all youth access to programming; caring adults who volunteer to work with, mentor, and teach youth; the Six Pillars of Character: trustworthiness, respect, responsibility, fairness, caring and citizenship.