CLEMSON — Just a few months after voting for the first time, Colleton County 18-year-old Geneffer Sweatman also witnessed her first presidential inauguration.

She was among eight South Carolina youth to travel to Washington, D.C., last week to witness the historic event. The group received reserved tickets from U.S. Rep. Jeff Duncan, R-S.C.

“This was my first year being able to vote, so I was really interested in learning more about the democratic process, learning more about the media’s role in the government and learning how we can be more involved,” Sweatman said.

South Carolina 4-H members Jeffrey Feaster, Garrett Ulmer , T.J. Price, Grey Riley, Mackenzie Riley, Lindsey Scott, Geneffer Sweatman and Ashlyn Whittemore pose for a photo in Washington D.C.

South Carolina 4-H members Jeffrey Feaster, Garrett Ulmer , T.J. Price, Grey Riley, Mackenzie Riley, Lindsey Scott, Geneffer Sweatman and Ashlyn Whittemore pose for a photo in Washington D.C.

More than 500 4-H youth from 25 states attended the inauguration as part of the National 4-H Citizenship Washington Focus, which engages young people in numerous citizenship and leadership opportunities.

“This trip was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for these youth. We appreciate the enthusiasm and professionalism these kids showed representing us on a national stage,” said Ashley Burns, assistant director of South Carolina 4-H. “They demonstrated impressive citizenship and leadership skills in their applications and we challenge them to take what they’ve learned on this trip and put it into action in their communities to educate others.”

Garrett Ulmer, 14, and also of Colleton County, said he made many friends on the trip whom he has since connected with via social media.

“Kids all over the country face some of the same problems and we learned that we can really work together to solve problems,” he said.

Others to participate in the trip were Jeffery Feaster of Fairfield County; T.J. Price, MacKenzie Riley, Grey Riley and Lindsey Scott of Saluda County; and Ashlyn Whittemore of Charleston County.

The youth applied to participate in the trip by submitting letters of intent and recommendation, along with a resume, and demonstrating an interest in citizenship activities and a record of leadership at the local, regional or state level.

The group departed for Washington Jan. 17, and stayed at the National 4-H Conference Center in Chevy Chase, Maryland, until returning Jan. 21. In addition to watching the swearing-in ceremony of President Donald Trump, the group toured historical sites, monuments and museums and met with numerous leaders to explore careers in politics and learn more about the branches of government.

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South Carolina 4-H
South Carolina 4-H is the youth-development program of the Clemson University Cooperative Extension Service. More than 92,000 young people in South Carolina participated in 4-H programing last year. Programs cover animal science, agriculture, science, engineering, natural resources, healthy living, leadership and much more.