It’s not every day you get to have lunch and conversation with our State Legislators. Hillsborough County 4-H members did just that, sharing a meal and lively discussion with local elected officials on March 23rd at 4-H County Presentation Day in Milford, NH.
4-H Presentation Day
Milford Middle School was bustling with speeches, artistic displays, interactive exhibits and demonstrations as 4-H Youth Leadership Team members and 13 state representatives toured 4-H Presentation Day. As hosts and guides, YLT members explained that projects from 4-H Presentation Day are scored by volunteer judges, and those with high scores move on to State 4-H Activities Day in May.
A Lively Civil Discourse
As presentations came to a close, Legislators joined 4-H members for a roundtable lunch discussion. The room filled with conversations , and legislators relished in the opportunity to make connections with their young constituents. After lunch, all in attendance settled in for an hour of serious conversation.
Jeff Santer, a longtime 4-H Volunteer and Youth Leadership Team leader, facilitated the group discussion. The first topic raised was the importance of civil discourse. Legislators shared experiences from the state house and beyond, where the skill of communicating in a civil manner has made their jobs easier.
“When we disagree, I have to remember who I am working for. I have to remind myself that I am working to do the most good for the people in my district, and civil discourse is important to those goals,” said State Senator Ruth Ward. “Getting along doesn’t mean you have to agree all the time,” added Representative Jim Belanger, “We should all get along.”
Members of the 4-H Team Inconceivable! Robotics agreed that civil discourse is important to reaching a goal. They explained that in robotics competitions, communicating effectively under pressure and working through disagreements quickly is imperative to success.
As the conversation continued, everyone agreed that sometimes successful communication is all about compromise. Legislators recalled situations on the floor or in committee work where compromise was the key to progress, and 4-H members related experiences where shared decision making was important to a club decision or group project.
Debating Upcoming Legislation
Santer then asked if there was any upcoming legislation that elected officials would like to discuss and receive input from the 4-H members. Representative Linda Camarota raised the recently presented bill HB 558, which restricts the use of plastic straws and Representative J.P. Marzullo followed with HB 560, which restricts the use of single-use plastic bags.
“Maybe it could be a compromise. Like, if you want a straw you can ask for one, but they shouldn’t be handed out automatically,” said 4-H’er Sarah Hill. State Senator Shannon Chandley smiled, and told Sarah that she “Could have saved us a lot of debate time with that idea.” Robotics team members then suggested looking into alternate materials for bags and straws that are biodegradable and have less of an impact on the environment.
“I was so happy to hear that our Senators and Representatives felt that New Hampshire’s future is in good hands with the young people they met and talked to on Saturday,” said Jolee Chase, Hillsborough County 4-H Program Manager. State Senator Melanie Levesque echoed those sentiments as she addressed participants at the culmination of the day’s activities. “If you are our future, then our future is bright.”
Thank You to all of the Representatives and Senators who were able to attend this event.