- Author: Regina O'Brien
- Editor: Jenna Colburn
Regina O'Brien was one of the delegates representing California 4-H at the 2017 Citizenship Washington Focus-Presidential Inauguration. For the first time, 4-H'ers were invited to attend the presidential inauguration. This was not about politics or supporting specific candidates. Planning for this event started a year in advance. Participants and chaperones had to sign up by April 2016, way before the November election. This unique experience was about giving 4-H youth an opportunity to witness in person a key feature of our democracy - a peaceful transfer of power.
Delegates participated in the standard program of a Citizenship Washington Focus (CWF) Conference, with the addition of being able to witness a presidential inauguration in person. The National 4-H Citizenship Washington Focus conference is an annual event that invites 4-H youth from around the country to learn about civic engagement in our nation's capital.
Reading about Regina's experience at the Citizenship Washington Focus conference – it may inspire you to sign up for next year's CWF!
My Trip to CWF-PI
by Regina O'Brien, Santa Rosa Valley 4-H, Ventura County
In January of this year, I attended Citizenship Washington Focus-Presidential Inauguration, also known as CWF-PI for short. CWF-PI, which is normally held in the summer, was a special edition of a program that outlined these special topics:
- The meaning and importance of our democracy
- The history of the president
- The election process
- The role of the media
- Discovering the intricacies of the Executive Branch
- Careers in politics
We got to practice our role as citizens and what citizenship is to us
There were 26 delegates in total from our state of California--21 4-H'ers and 5 parent chaperones. We attended workshops, sessions, and huddles. We held our own mock election to run for president of CWF-PI, where I ran for election (and no, I didn't win).
The workshops included topics such as the role of our media reporting the facts and being the center of communication that emphasized our 1st amendment right of Freedom of Speech. I also got to attend workshops where we had speakers tell us about how important it is to think beyond yourself and better your own community. I really enjoyed all of our activities in our workshops, such as creating our own front newspaper article.
I think what stuck with me the most about citizenship was when one of the speakers defined it as, “what you do with your gum wrapper when no one is looking.”
Meeting people from other states
I got to meet people from as far as Alaska, and participated in a ‘pin trade' where we brought stuff with us representative of our respective states and got to bring back with us assortments of trinkets. I got pins from Florida all the way to Wisconsin. We all stayed together at the National 4-H Conference Center in Chevy Chase, Maryland. I had 3 roommates from different parts of California.
Sightseeing in D.C.
At night, despite many road closures, we got to do some sightseeing in DC and visited the presidential memorials for Thomas Jefferson and Franklin Roosevelt as well as the Martin Luther King memorial. We also visited the Lincoln Memorial, which was set up for the platforms to celebrate President-Elect Trump arriving in D.C. for the welcome celebration the next day. In addition to the memorials, we also went to the National Archives and saw the original Constitution, Articles of Confederation, and Declaration of Independence. Our group split up to go the Smithsonian museums. I chose the Air and Space Museum and got to see a little of the Natural History Museum. My mom chose to go to the American History Museum. A little-known fact is that admission to every Smithsonian museum is free!
The Presidential Inauguration
My mom had previously gotten us tickets to the red area to see the Inauguration in the morning. It was an exciting and historical moment to witness the peaceful transition of power.
After the Inauguration, we went to the Newseum to meet up with the rest of our group and enjoy a buffet catered by Wolfgang Puck and a front row seat to the Inaugural Parade.
That same night, we went on a dinner dance and cruise on the Potomac where we crossed over into Virginia.
CWF-PI was a once in a lifetime experience and I recommend that other 4-H'ers attend this event in the future.
Note: The Presidential Inauguration is held every four years so the next CWF-PI would be in 2021.
Register by Dec. 17 for the 2018 Citizenship Washington Focus
Registration is now open for next year's Citizenship Washington Focus conference, being held June 16 to 23, 2018. A special add-on for California 4-H delegates is the option of an extended trip, which continues after the conference through June 26 and includes visits to Gettysburg, Philadelphia, and Baltimore. See the Citizenship Washington Focus event page to learn more. Register by December 17, 2017 to save your space.