Farm Bureau ‘Citizenship Day’ teaches government process
The group of 4-H members met at the Cameron Chamber of Commerce building for a brief overview of county government, how Milam County was established, and what the day would hold for them. The group then toured the historic Milam County Courthouse and learned what goes on in the district courtroom and the county courtroom.
The 4-H’ers observed the Milam County Commissioners Court in action and received a proclamation denoting the day as Milam County Farm Bureau Citizenship Day. Since the 4-H members were from all areas of the county, they observed their own representative conduct county business.
Following the tour of the county courthouse, the 4-H members met with Congressman John Carter for an informal question and answer period. Rep. Carter shared insight into what it is like to be a congressman and what things he can and cannot do.
Carter talked about security issues and what it is like to walk around in the capitol. He also shared that, since 9/11, constituents cannot just show up at the capitol building for a visit. The visit has to be arranged with his office due to security reasons.
He also shared what it is like to go to a foreign country as a congressman and what the security there involved.
After meeting with the 4-H members, Carter also attend a luncheon meeting at the Milam County Farm Bureau Office. He visited with the Milam County Farm Bureau board members and other key agricultural leaders.
Following a pizza lunch provided by the Farm Bureau and cookies and lemonade provided by the Milam County Extension Service, the young 4-H members settled down for the Congressional Insights program.
The 4-H members were divided into four groups and each group was assigned a fictional freshman congress persons name. They became that congress person.
The members studied the biography of the congressman or congresswoman, the make up of their voting district and learned about the issues facing these new members of congress.
The 4-H members were then given a set of issues that needed their vote and information on how it would affect the voters in their district. They had a time limit to make a decision on whether to vote for or against each issue.
From time to time they were given news bulletins or press releases that indicated whether or not the voters in their district were pleased with the decisions they made.
After fund-raising, making decisions on critical issues, deciding how to spend their campaign money to reach the most people and meeting with their constituents, the 4-H members (aka freshmen congressmen) faced re-election. Some were re-elected, some were not.
At the end of the day, the 4-H members were tired but agreed they had learned what it takes to be a good citizen and a future voter.