4-H’ers Focus on Citizenship at Annual Leadership Conference

North Carolina’s Electric Cooperatives recently partnered with the North Carolina 4-H Program to support Citizenship North Carolina Focus, a three-day conference that brought 128 high-school age participants from 47 counties to Raleigh to learn more about civic engagement, how government impacts everyday life and how they can be involved citizens and effective leaders. In addition to participating in interactive sessions, students also had the opportunity to meet with elected officials in downtown Raleigh and take part in an off-site service experience.

Nelle Hotchkiss, senior vice president of association services for North Carolina’s Electric Cooperatives, encouraged conference participants to make the most of the experience by taking what they learn and making a difference in their local communities.

“It says a lot about your character, your determination and your leadership ability that you sought out an opportunity like this that will help you engage with public officials and become a more involved citizen,” Hotchkiss said. “Civic engagement is a responsibility we all share, and we all benefit when young people like you are committed to becoming aware of the challenges we face as a state or in your locality, and exploring how you can be part of the solution.”

Dr. Mike Yoder, N.C. State Extension’s 4-H associate director and state program leader, thanked the electric cooperatives for their ongoing partnership and emphasized the role the event plays in encouraging civic responsibility from a young age.

“Since its inception, Citizenship North Carolina Focus has been funded by North Carolina’s Electric Cooperatives, and in addition to financial support, the cooperatives have contributed greatly to development of event content, providing speakers and helping establish relevant programming,” Yoder said. “For many youth, this is their first opportunity to meet their elected officials, and the experience often sparks a life-long interest and passion for public service.”

4-H is the largest youth development organization in North Carolina and the nation, and N.C. State Extension and Cooperative Extension at N.C. A&T State University conduct 4-H programs, such as Citizenship North Carolina Focus, that allow youth to “learn by doing.” The four H’s on the 4-H emblem stand for Head, Heart, Hands and Health.

Citizenship North Carolina Focus is just one of the community programs supported by North Carolina’s Electric Cooperatives. Visit the In the Community section of our website to learn more about how co-ops are working to strengthen co-op communities and develop young leaders throughout the state.

Nelle Hotchkiss, senior vice president of association services for North Carolina’s Electric Cooperatives, addresses Citizenship North Carolina Focus participants.


This year’s Citizenship North Carolina Focus participants.