Withrow Students Attend Citizenship Washington Focus 

August 13, 2019

Meeting with Ohio Senator Rob Portman to share action plan.  From left: Zoë Johnson, Benaiah Hutchings, Senator Rob Portman, Nina Johnson, Jadu Thomas, 4-H Chaperone Hope Johnson GordonThanks to the generosity of Nationwide, a team of youth from Hamilton and Butler County had the opportunity to attend National 4-H Council's Citizenship Washington Focus (CWF) during the week of June 22, 2019. High School Students Benaiah Hutchings, Nina Johnson, Zoë Johnson and Jadu Thomas attended the week-long program and while there began to develop a community action plan to address a challenge in the community. Benaiah and Jadu attend Withrow University High School in Hamilton County and Nina and Zoë attend Monroe High School in Butler County.

For more than 50 years, 4-H members from across the country have traveled to Washington, D.C., to participate in Citizenship Washington Focus, 4-H's premier leadership and citizenship program for high school students. Attendees learn how to be citizen leaders and make a difference in their communities. Youth receive a behind-the-scenes look at our nation’s capital, meet with members of Congress and develop key skills — communication, leadership and citizenship — through hands-on learning and group activities. At the conclusion of the program, participants draft step-by-step action plans for taking on important issues in their communities. 

Benaiah Hutchings, senior at Withrow University High School, says, "The 4-H citizenship Washington focus will be forever submitted into my memory because we learned how political parties not getting along really affects how the states function."

Following CWF, the team is collaborating with their local Farm Bureau to refine and execute their community action plan that addresses a need in Hamilton and Butler Counties. Benaiah, Nina, Zoë and Jadu are specifically working to create an annual Cultural Diversity Food Fest where different teen communities come together to introduce respective cultures to each other through food. Sharing food is a great way to start conversations and will hopefully lead to respecting the diversity of different cultures in America. Students will be encouraged to use personal and community gardens to grow ingredients for their dishes for the event being held yearly in September after harvest.

Support from Nationwide for the 4-H Leaders in the Field program provided sponsorships for three delegations of youth from Ohio to travel to the nation’s capital to experience hands-on educational workshops, tour Washington D.C.'s living classrooms and meet with members of Congress to build the skills to be active citizens back home and in their future agriculture-industry endeavors.