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4-Hers Explore Public Service at Legislative Academy
Missouri Ag Connection - 03/23/2020

Fifteen 4-H teens met face to face with state elected officials during the University of Missouri Extension 4-H Legislative Academy last month in Jefferson City.

"Legislative Academy brings 4-H teens to the heart of state government," said Steve Henness, University of Missouri 4-H Center for Youth Development campus specialist. "By experiencing three branches of government over three days, they learn about public service and lock in plans to become more engaged as young citizens."

State Sen. Mike Bernskoetter, R-Jefferson City, and state Rep. Jeff Knight, R-Lebanon, legislative hosts of the 2020 Academy, introduced 4-H delegates on the floors of the Missouri Senate and House. Youths met and shadowed state senators and representatives during afternoon sessions and hearings.

4-H delegates met with elected officials and staff from the offices of the governor, lieutenant governor, secretary of state and attorney general. They explored the role of state agencies and 4-H partnerships through visits to the Missouri Department of Agriculture and the Missouri Department of Conservation.

At the Missouri Supreme Court, 4-H delegates issued opinions on First Amendment cases as mock judges, and learned about the Missouri Plan behind the state's court system.

At the Jim Russell Foundation Banquet, youths spoke to a gathering of legislators and agricultural leaders about their future plans. Don Nikodim, executive vice president of the Missouri Pork Association, received the Peter Myers Distinguished Service Award for leadership in agriculture and public service.

As a result of the Academy, 93% of the 4-H teens said they made connections to their plans after high school, and 86% said they are "more likely" to pursue a role in public service. One youth reflected, "This experience caused me to evaluate how my future career might involve government, and how the government impacts different careers."

The Missouri 4-H Foundation provides sponsorship support for the 4-H Legislative Academy. Presenting sponsors included FCS Financial, First State Community Bank and Missouri Pork Association. Delegate sponsors included the Association of Missouri Electric Cooperatives, Axiom Strategies, Carson & Coil, Missouri Automobile Dealers, Missouri Corn Growers Association, and Nelda Godfrey.

Missouri 4-H is an active, dynamic organization of young people who are learning, growing and preparing to be the leaders of today and tomorrow -- making a real difference in their community, country and world. 4-H is the youth development program of the University of Missouri and the nation's Cooperative Extension System. For more information, please visit

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