Archived Story

4-Hers tell of Washington experience

Published 12:50pm Wednesday, August 26, 2009

By JOHN EBY
Edwardsburg Argus

CASSOPOLIS – Back from Washington, Cass County 4-H’s delegation gushed to the Board of Commissioners Thursday night about their week experience in the nation’s capital right before July 4.

Jessica Poulsen of Marcellus, the youth development MSU Extension educator, introduced to the county commission the quartet of Brittany Francis of Neighborhood Gang – and the granddaughter of Vice Chairman Ron Francis of Cassopolis – Brianna Fitzsimmons of Penn 4-H, Kyle Miller, the 2008 fair king of Country Trailblazers and Ashley Rogers of Country Trailblazers and Drafted!

Brianna told commissioners of her “three favorite things.”

First was the Holocaust Museum, since she visited Germany and a concentration camp last year.

“We got to meet a survivor,” Brianna said. “I bought her book and she signed it. I also liked Mount Vernon, a beautiful place.

“There was actually an impromptu wreath-laying ceremony I got to say a prayer at. I was really honored to do that. The last thing would be just meeting kids from all around,” particularly Oklahoma and Colorado. “We had an awesome time.”

Brittany, making her first trip to Washington, “really enjoyed it. Everything was new and exciting for me. My favorite part was definitely the Holocaust Museum. It kind of made everything seem more real. I also really enjoyed learning how to write bills and sharing ideas and opinions with all these kids that we’ve never met before and bringing them all together. Like you guys said when we were first here (June 18), there’s so much to see that we just got a small taste of it. I’m excited to get to go back and really thankful for the experience I had the first time.”

Ashley “also had a great time in Washington, D.C. I really enjoyed the museums, like the Museum of Natural History and the Holocaust Museum. Also, getting to see all the sights was a lot of fun. All the memorials were touching and made me appreciate all those people who sacrificed their lives to make America what it is today. Seeing how the government works on a federal level was very interesting and meeting new people from all over the country was a lot of fun.”

“For me,” Kyle said, “this trip to Washington has been the highlight of my 4-H career. “It truly opened my eyes to a lot of things because in Cass County I live kind of out in the boondocks.

“Being able to write these bills with seven other states was amazing. Resources in each state are very different. We’re very lucky in Michigan because it’s the second most diverse state in the nation. The list of what we grow in Michigan goes on and on. You talk to a kid in New Mexico and it seems like all they grow is chili peppers. Congress men and women stand up for what their state believes in, yet allowing the other states get their say to pass these bills into laws,” he added.

Kyle also recalled an emotional moment at the Vietnam Wall.

“We met a veteran and were able to shake his hand and thank him. He took me over to the wall and, with a flashlight, and said, ‘I fought next to him.’ I don’t know how he could stand there and not have a tear in his eye.”

“What neat experiences you young folks have had,” said Chairman Bob Wagel, R-Wayne Township, noting his own one-hour visit to the “heartbreaking” Holocaust Museum turned into five.

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