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More on Citizenship Washington Focus (CWF)

While the many 4-H clubs in Sussex County focus on their club's topic (livestock, crafts, cooking, etc.), members are also learning the workings of government. The basic structure for 4-H clubs involves developing a constitution and electing officers. This model allows clubs to treat their members fairly and operate efficiently while giving members the opportunity to practice how government works.

This experience doesn't end with local clubs however; 4-H members also have the opportunity to participate in state and national programs that provide insight into how our federal government functions. One such program is Citizenship Washington Focus (CWF); a week-long 4-H citizenship program for youth ages 14-19. The program annually draws thousands of 4-H members from across America to stay at the National 4-H Youth Conference Center, near Washington, D.C. Using the nation's capital as a working classroom 4-H members learn about our government, citizenship and civic education.

In New Jersey, 4-H club members submit applications to participate in CWF. The State 4-H Office then selects forty to fifty 4-H members to serve as delegates to CWF. (Four adult advisors join the group as well.) The national CWF program runs for several weeks during the summer and hosts almost 2,000 youth. During the week our New Jersey 4-H members attend, there will be as many as 300 4-H members representing 6 different states.

Delegates attending the CWF program will be immersed in the culture and history of Washington, D.C. through onsite workshops at its most spectacular sights. Destinations for the trip include the Capitol, Mount Vernon, Arlington National Cemetery, Presidential and war monuments and memorials and Smithsonian museums. A highlight of the visit will be Nightview; a tour of our nation's most historic sites beautifully illuminated.

The CWF week will also include a behind-the-scenes look at our nation's capital and the chance to meet members of Congress. Motivational speakers will be featured throughout the week during workshops and assemblies designed to increase individual commitment to citizen involvement while building lifetime skills for interacting with government. Other activities are scheduled that will encourage new and lasting friendships among the delegates.

The goal of CWF is to, create better citizens today for better leaders tomorrow. Youth participating in the program have the opportunity to learn about citizenship, leadership and how to contribute to their community through government. By observing government at work and participating in activities that engage them in practicing government, 4-H members may expand their understanding of the importance of civic and social responsibility. By providing youth an experience of how our federal government operates we may instill the value of participating in government to affect positive change.