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4-H Ninth-Graders Step into Roles of Governor and Speakers of the Senate and House

Star Staff Reports

The elected 4-H Officers are from left Timothy Martin, Kendall Garrell and Heath Quick.

The elected 4-H Officers are from left Timothy Martin, Kendall Garrell and Heath Quick.

Capitol Hill was the site of an unusual election last month.  Ninth-graders were elected as Governor, Speaker of the Senate and Speaker of the House.
The 68th annual Tennessee 4-H Congress, March 22-25, in Murfreesboro drew some 450 4-Hers, volunteer leaders and extension staff.
Elected delegate officers were: Governor Kendall Garrell of Lincoln County, 15, and the daughter of Jeanie Garrell; Speaker of the Senate Heath Quick from Shelby County, 15, and the son of Gayle and Carl Quick; and Speaker of the House Timothy Martin of Bedford County, 15, and the son of Kim and Tony Martin.
All candidates who wish to run for officer positions must first be approved by the State 4-H Office for membership in the Tennessee 4-H Honor Club, according to Shelby County Extension Agent III Cathy Faust.
In keeping with the real-life democratic process, candidates prepare their campaign and give speeches at a regional caucus on Sunday night of the 4-H Congress.
Afterward, a vote is taken.  If participants win at the regional level, they deliver three-minute speeches to the entire delegation and answer a question posed by the 4-H Governor on Monday, she said. The delegation, whose members are required to be registered to vote (having participated in a mock activity of completing a voter registration form and receiving the certificate prior to Election Day), then use voting machines to exercise their votes.
Elected officers serve a one-year term.  They meet throughout the year to plan the next 4-H Congress and preside over events in 2016.
While in the state capitol, delegates to the Tennessee 4-H Congress had the opportunity of sitting in the seat of their elected officials as well as actually meeting the legislative officials and “voting” on a bill.  4-H delegates are instructed to study the bills and resolution before their legislative session. They also are invited to state their views in an attempt to influence peers.
During their spare time, 4-H Congress youth enjoyed a cruise on the Cumberland River aboard the General Jackson steamboat.
According to Faust, the 4-H Congress began in 1948 and has given some 33,900 4-Hers and volunteer leaders firsthand experience in state government.  In Shelby County alone, 1,500 4-Hers are involved in diverse fields of interest.  Nationwide, there are more then 6.5 million 4-H members in varied experiential learning programs, according to Wikipedia.org.
For more information on Shelby County 4-H or the 2016 4-H Congress, contact Shelby County Extension Director Jim Todd at 752-1207 or Cathy Faust at cfaust2@utk.edu.   More information can also be found at the Shelby County Website, http://shelby.tennessee.edu, as well as at the statewide 4-H site, http://4h.tennessee.edu.

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