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A Capitol Challenge: Unlocking Teen Leadership Potential
by Darrell Rubel, Ohio Farm Bureau director of learning delivery
We just wrapped up a GREAT event with our first-ever Capitol Challenge Feb. 11 and 12.
The Capitol Challenge is a program for teens ages 14-18 who are 4-H, FFA or Farm Bureau members. Working in teams, they learn about public policy, and answer the question: "My community would be better if..." They then work collaboratively on making their policy or advocacy idea or program a reality. Groups will record their work and will present a proposal at the 2013 Ohio State Fair. The winning team will earn scholarship funds.
I have to say these teens were fully-engaged throughout the program, and it went beyond my expectations.
Highlights included a great overview of public policy from Ohio Farm Bureau Vice President of Public Policy Adam Sharp, a breakfast with legislators including guest speaker Sen. Bob Peterson; and a tour of the Ohio Statehouse.
HERE ARE MY THREE MAJOR TAKEAWAYS
1. Almost every youth team wants to do something connected with ag education and consumer outreach.
2. During their group project planning sessions, EVERY table was engaged, with youth using laptops, phones and tablets to look up existing public policy and researching the needs of their project. Some were using Google Hangouts and Facetime to interview teachers and leaders to ask for ideas and input. I've seen the way the next generation uses technology to quickly get information and make the best use of planning time and it is truly amazing.
3. The teens were passionate about their projects. All of them recognize the importance of collaboration and after visiting Ag Day at the Capitol, they KNOW that Farm Bureau is a strong supporter and advocate for 4-H, FFA and ag education. Be ready - a lot of these young leaders are ready to engage!
Overall, this was a great event and first-ever collaborative program with Ohio Farm Bureau, Ohio FFA and Ohio 4-H. The adult leaders from each group were duly impressed and are already talking about next year. Legislators even took some of the adult leaders aside and asked if they could see/be involved with the youth presentations at the State Fair. I’m thrilled to see their support.
Rubel shares insight on the Capitol Challenge in this Google Hangout with Director of Digital Strategy Dan Toland.
OPPORTUNITIES FOR COUNTY FARM BUREAUS
County Farm Bureau leaders have a unique opportunity to help shepherd teens who have shown enthusiasm for leadership, making a difference and, more importantly, doing something about what they believe. County Farm Bureau presidents will receive notification of local teens who attended.
Consider doing the following:
- Serving as a sounding board for their ideas and planning on their advocacy/policy projects, providing advice and feedback when asked
- Inviting Capital Challenge youth to attend a county board meeting
- Encouraging the teens to attend your local policy development meeting to hear other’s ideas and to share their project’s advocacy/policy issue
- Providing them with hands-on experience by asking them to help with a county Farm Bureau public policy project.
How else might you use this opportunity to build future leaders and strengthen ties with the community and youth organizations?
Darrell Rubel is passionate about learning, helping others to discover their leadership potential and encouraging them to accomplish their dreams and goals.