News and Events

Local Students Working Against Tobacco Attend
4-H Conference in Washington, DC

By Chandler Ash, Gilchrist County 4-H SWAT

In July, three Gilchrist County Students Working Against Tobacco (SWAT) members went to Washington D.C. for a national 4-H event called Citizenship Washington Focus (CWF).  The purpose of the trip was to take thirteen 4-H youth from around the state of Florida to the nation’s capitol to learn about laws, and how bills are passed, and the political system of our country.  The three CWF delegates from Gilchrist County were Chandler Ash, Spencer Hewitt, and Allie Madlem.  They traveled with several other delegates from Florida and Georgia to the National 4-H Conference Center in Chevy Chase, Maryland, which is just outside of Washington D.C. 

While in Washington, they visited almost every memorial in the area, including Mount Vernon, the Jefferson Memorial, and Lincoln Memorial.  They took part in several workshops that taught them the process of how bills are written, and go through the process of being passed into law.  SWAT youth even participated in a mock Legislative session in which they wrote, sponsored, and voted on their own bills.

The event had every delegate placed into one of eight groups.  Each group had a focus issue to discuss.  A bill was then written on the focus issue and passed into the bill writing committee. The bill writing committee merged different bills together to create a new bill to be voted on in the mock legislative session.  This process showed SWAT members how hard it is to get a bill on to the House floor for voting and how a bill is debated and voted on in a legislative session.

As a result of this trip, the SWAT youth, along with 4-Hers from other counties in North Florida discussed issues that were important to youth in their communities, and decided that youth tobacco use was one of the biggest ones.   The Gilchrist SWAT members helped North Florida 4-Hers write an action plan to address this issue.  The plan is to work together within the region to encourage counties to put all tobacco products behind the counter where youth cannot touch them.

Gilchrist County 4-H Students

From L to R: Chandler Ash, Spencer Hewitt, and Allie Madlem visit the
National 4-H Youth Conference Center in Chevy Chase, MD


Gilchrist County 4-H students visit the Nation's Capital

From L to R: Gilchrist County 4-H SWAT Youth Chandler Ash, Spencer Hewitt, Justin Hart,
Mary-Thomas Hart, and Allie Madlem visit the office of Florida Congressman Cliff Stearn