Published on 02/28/24

4-H’ers see leadership in action during Georgia 4-H Day at the Capitol

By Josie Smith
Georgia 4-H’ers gather on the Oglethorpe Staircase in the Georgia Capitol Building with legislators and organizational leaders to celebrate Georgia 4-H Day at the Capitol on February 14, 2024.
Nearly 700 people gathered for a delegation photo on the Oglethorpe Stairs during 4-H Day at the Capitol Feb. 14. (Photo by Josie Smith)

The gold dome of the Georgia Capitol was complemented with shades of green on Feb. 14 as 4-H youth and adult leaders joined elected officials for the largest Georgia 4-H Day at the Capitol on record.

With nearly 700 in attendance, outstanding 4-H’ers from counties across the state gathered to engage with legislators, observe leadership in action and learn about the civic process.

Civic engagement is one of three focus areas that Georgia 4-H teaches youth through in-school programming, after-school activities, project work and camps. A special partnership with Gulfstream Aerospace Corporation and the Georgia 4-H Foundation makes it possible for hundreds of Georgia 4-H’ers to “learn by doing” with the annual visit to the state Capitol to experience the civic process in real time.

District 20 Sen. Larry Walker and District 11 state Rep. Rick Jasperse hosted the 4-H delegation and Georgia 4-H President Thomas Holt addressed attendees on behalf of 173,500 students currently enrolled in Georgia 4-H. “This organization provides life-changing experiences for every 4-H’er,” Holt said. “This is all made possible by support from our elected officials and every stakeholder in the Georgia 4-H family.”

Empowering future civic leaders

County groups spent the morning exploring the Capitol building through tours and a scavenger hunt. Numerous 4-H agents arranged meetings with senators and representatives from their own districts, allowing 4-H’ers to ask questions and learn from their representatives in the Georgia legislature.

Georgia’s current slate of elected officials contains many 4-H alumni, parents and supporters who were thrilled to welcome students to the building where government comes to life.

Georgia 4-H'er Naomi Jackson shakes hands with Sen. Larry Walker at a lectern at the Georgia Capitol.
State 4-H Officer Naomi Jackson presented Sen. Larry Walker with a token of appreciation after he recognized 4-H honorees during a celebratory luncheon at the Georgia Freight Depot. (Photo by Josie Smith)

The day concluded with a luncheon for students and legislators to celebrate the influence of Georgia 4-H. Rep. Jasperse encouraged 4-H’ers to become the next generation of leaders and Sen. Walker acknowledged 4-H honorees who have received state and national recognition for accomplishments over the past year.

Other speakers included Spalding County 4-H’er Winta Ykeallo, who shared the influence 4-H has had on her life; U.S. Department of Agriculture Senior Staff to the Secretary on Cooperative Extension Tyler Tucker; University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences Dean and Director Nick T. Place, and CAES Associate Dean for Extension Laura Perry Johnson.

Gulfstream Aerospace Corporation invests in Georgia 4-H’ers by providing support for transportation, logistics and lunch during 4-H Day at the Capitol. The event, which is often the first visit to Atlanta for many students, makes an indelible mark on those who attend. Youth are empowered to become leaders of the future when they are given the opportunity to engage with present leaders.

Georgia 4-H enables youth to develop necessary life skills, positive relationships and community awareness. As the premiere youth leadership organization in the state, 4-H reaches hundreds of thousands of people annually through UGA Cooperative Extension offices and 4-H facilities.

For more information about how to get involved with 4-H in your community, contact your local UGA Extension office or visit

Josie Smith is the public relations coordinator for Georgia 4-H.