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Retreat lets 4-H members share ideas, learn

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- The second West Virginia University 4-H Civic Engagement Forum will bring 65 4-H members to Charleston Sunday for a three-day retreat on leadership, community engagement and policymaking.

Members will learn about state government, citizenship and other matters. They will also get the chance to share ideas with their legislators Tuesday when they take a trip to the Capitol for the WVU Extension Service's Day at the Legislature.

Sherry Swint, a WVU Extension Service agent for Kanawha County, said members would have an opportunity to learn how to be spokespeople for things they find important. Some will even get the chance to become junior legislators for a day.

"We hope this is the beginning of their involvement in their community," she said. "We want them to ask what are the things they can do in their neighborhood to make improvements."

Swint said many of the members haven't been to the Capitol before. She said the retreat is meant to expand their perspective so they can better engage society and make good decisions when they face opposing viewpoints.

Jeremy Farley, an extension agent for Logan County, said he hopes the 4-H members will learn as much as possible, become energized and become more involved in their communities back home.

"We are looking forward to engaging youth from across the state and making sure they interact with decision makers so they can go out in their communities and do great things," he said.

Farley is also co-chairman of the WVU 4-H Civic Engagement Forum. The forum is considered a statewide 4-H camp, and attendance meets an All Stars honor society requirement.

During their time in Charleston, members will stay at Camp Virgil Tate and hear from a panel of different speakers.

Farley said 4-H members will be allowed to direct the panel discussion topics to cover things they want to know and things they want to do in their communities.

Special speaking guests will include Jessica Lynch, a West Virginia native, Iraq War veteran and the first recovered female American prisoner of war; WVU President Gordon Gee; and Steve Stark, historical lecturer and illustrator.

Contact writer Samuel Speciale at sam.speciale@dailymailwv.com or 304-348-4886. Follow him at twitter.com/wvschools.


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