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New 4-H program helps teach about government
Elected officials recently helped Port Gibson High School students get a better grasp on local government through a new 4-H citizenship program.
The Keys to the Community program helps young people understand how county government operates, what its objectives are, how its actions affect citizens and why it is important to become engaged citizens. It is one of four leadership and citizenship programs offered through the Mississippi State University Extension Service 4-H Youth Development Program.
“In light of everything we see on the news about government now, I wanted to help students understand what their local government does and what their responsibilities are as citizens,” said Monica Beeman, agent with the MSU Extension Service in Claiborne County. “These juniors and seniors will soon be adults, and it’s important for them to understand the processes of their government, how the actions of government impact their lives and what their personal responsibilities are related to government.”
Beeman enlisted several local government officials, including county supervisors, the sheriff, the justice court clerk and the tax assessor, to explain how each office functions in local government. Some municipal officials also spoke to the students.
The sessions were conducted in the students’ government classes once a week for two months. Students took exams at the conclusion of the program to measure their comprehension and retention of the information. Beeman recently held a graduation ceremony for the students who participated.
American government teacher Soloman Williams said the program’s approach is a great way to reach students.
“Having a real person who serves in a particular government role come talk about their job helps drive home what we learn in our textbook,” he said. “Students are able to engage and talk to them and ask questions. At the end of the program, 90 percent of my students comprehended the material better.”
In addition to the exit exam, students wrote letters to Beeman communicating what they learned.
“I got a lot of responses that tell me most of the students did take some new knowledge away from the training,” Beeman said. “Before the program, a lot of them didn’t know who their supervisor or other representatives were. They also realized that keeping up with current events and participating in their local government processes is important.”
Shania Foster, a senior, said she enjoyed the program and learned a lot.
“It’s important to know how local government works and to get involved,” she said. “That is important if we want to better our communities. Having local leaders come and talk to us about what they do made learning about local government it fun.”
To learn about other 4-H programs available in Claiborne County, contact Monica Beeman at 601-437-5011.