4-Hers learn about legislative process
By Julie Toth
More than 40 students from as far away as Clark and White Pine counties attended the two-day 2009 4-H Capital Days event March 1-2 in Carson City, where they had breakfast with dignitaries, toured government buildings and debated upcoming legislation.
"You are doing a wonderful job representing the youth of this state before our legislature," University of Nevada, Reno Provost Marc Johnson told the 4-Hers during a Legislative Breakfast held in the foyer of the State Library in Carson City March 2.
The breakfast gave the youth an opportunity to interact with their peers as well as Nevada legislators, university officials and 4-H administrators from around the state. University of Nevada Cooperative Extension Dean Karen Hinton, Assistant Dean Dr. John Burton and State 4-H Youth Development Coordinator Steve Schafer were among those on hand to greet the students.
"Capital Days is a great way for these teens to get an idea of how government works, and the role we all play in government," Schafer said, noting that the youths did much of the planning for the two-day event.
Chris McGaw, president of 4-H State Ambassadors, told attendees during his welcoming speech that his experience with Capital Days has taught him a great deal about how laws can affect his generation.
"Nevada makes it easy for us to voice our opinions," McGaw said.
McGaw is a 17-year-old junior from Tonopah and attended his third Capital Days event. He also praised 4-H for teaching him about confidence, character and pride.
Olivia Pishnak, a 16-year-old sophomore from Carson City, was excited to attend her first Capital Days event but nervous to sing the Star Spangled Banner in front of her peers at the breakfast.
Later in the day, after a mock hearing on a bill to protect Lake Tahoe Basin (Assembly Bill 18), Pishnak remained excited.
"I’m an environmentalist now," Pishnak said after learning more about the bill and its effects.
Nevada Assemblyman John Hambrick said that Capital Days is valuable because participants are able to meet legislators and ask the tough questions about various issues in Nevada.
"They aren’t always going to be youth," Hambrick said. "But they’ll be part of the community."
Adrienne Sawyer, 4-H Teen Activities Coordinator for Douglas County, said the students had been tracking the Nevada Legislature since it began its 75th session Feb. 2. The mock hearing was an opportunity for students to not only meet legislators but act as legislators as well.
"We have the chance to change the bills that affect us," McGaw said.