South Carolina youth, lawmakers swap stories of 4-H journeys at Statehouse gathering
COLUMBIA — South Carolina 4-H Legislative Day brought a throng of 4-H’ers clad in the familiar green blazers to the Statehouse on March 12, and state Rep. Randy Ligon said South Carolina 4-H was a big reason he was there on so many other days, too.
Ligon, of Chester County, reflected on his experiences with 4-H from summer camps as a youth to a Citizenship Short Course as a 16-year-old in 1976 that included a trip to Washington, D.C., where he met U.S. Sen. Strom Thurmond.
“If you don’t know who Strom Thurmond is, there’s a statue of him on the other side (of the Statehouse), and I encourage you to go read about a great statesman,” Ligon said. “We got on a bus early that morning, went to Washington and saw Sen. Thurmond, and that was the first time I’d ever left the farm in Chester County and gotten out of the Carolinas. 4-H got me to Washington, 4-H got me out of town, 4-H got me there (and) 4-H got me here today.”
A state project winner in agriculture as a 4-H’er, Ligon was also awarded a trip to the National 4-H Congress that marked the first time he’d ever been on an airplane.
“4-H had taken me to Washington, then it took me to Chicago,” he said. “That was an eye-opening experience. … The leadership training that helped get me there was so critical. We did it at Clemson, we did it at the camps, so any of you that get a chance to do leadership training, be sure to do that any time you get the chance.”
More than 300 4-H’ers, family members and Clemson Cooperative Extension agents made the trip to the capital city for the event, which gave the youth and adults the chance to meet with their local legislators and share the ways 4-H has impacted their lives.
“I would like for all of us to take advantage of this moment in order to show that South Carolina 4-H grows here — at the Statehouse, on our farms, at our schools and in the hearts of each and every one of us, making the best better,” South Carolina 4-H State Teen Council President Garrett Ulmer said.
Quentin Murrell, South Carolina 4-H State Teen Council secretary, said the event’s purpose was to exercise the crucial role of citizens in making their feelings and opinions known to elected leaders.
“It’s important to be prepared when you meet with a legislator: Learn important information about them that can guide your conversation — their name, political party, length of service, what committees are they assigned to, what are their special interests and their priorities, what are the names of their top staff members,” Murrell said. “We’re here to learn about our state legislature and respect them and all they do to make our state and local communities better. We say, ‘Thank you for supporting us day by day to make sure our futures are bright.’”
Lt. Gov. Pamela Evette told the crowd gathered on the Statehouse steps that for decades programs such as 4-H have helped to produce the next generation of leaders in South Carolina and the nation.
“As leaders, it’s your responsibility to know what it means to be a good American and, most importantly, a good South Carolinian,” Evette said. “I have long felt the need to serve. I come from a family where I’m only a second-generation American. So my grandparents took a huge leap of faith to come to this country because they wanted the life for their children and their grandchildren that this capitol represents. My dad told us every day that it was important to work hard, to do good and to aim higher.”
During the ceremony, Rep. Davey Hiott of Pickens County read a resolution, H. 4032, to recognize and commend the leadership and members of South Carolina 4-H and to declare Tuesday, March 12, 2019, as 4-H day at the state capitol.
State 4-H Teen Council member Jordan Snipes said the event provided the 4-H’ers with an opportunity to relate to lawmakers firsthand the difference the club has made in their lives.
“We’re here to meet with all of our elected officials from our counties and from our cities and who represent us in the Statehouse and explain to them why we care so much about 4-H and what good it does for our communities,” Snipes said. “What it does for me is it exposes me to new things that I never thought I would try before. We have a lot to work on in South Carolina with agriculture, with new businesses, with new people coming in that need to find a place to feel like they belong, that they have a purpose here. And I feel like 4-H does that in every aspect.”