Local 4-H members participate in a session with State Sen. Rosanna Gabaldon as part of the Arizona 4-H Engaged Citizens Event.

Seven teens from Santa Cruz County recently participated in the inaugural Arizona 4-H Engaged Citizens Event, a day-long virtual gathering aimed at developing civic-minded citizens.

The local participants included Naomi Flores, Ziobhana Vargas, Carlos Delgado, Marcelo Delgado, Andres Villasenor and Juan David Vasquez from Nogales, and Sarah Lyman from Sonoita.

The event put Arizona 4-H youth in sessions with current and former legislators and government relations professionals, which covered topics including how a bill becomes a law, careers in government service and how to communicate with legislators.

The local participants met with State Sen. Rosanna Gabaldon and Rep. Daniel Hernandez, both of whom represent Santa Cruz County in Phoenix. During these meetings, they were able to ask questions about political motivations, ideas for the future and COVID-19 mitigation strategies, and share thoughts on post-secondary education opportunities.

“It was amazing to see how engaged the teens were as they spoke with and learned from our state legislative representatives,” said Norma Elisa Ruiz, Santa Cruz County 4-H program coordinator, in a news release.

She added: “We are excited and look forward to the opportunity to represent Santa Cruz County at the second annual Engaged Citizens Event in person next year in Phoenix.”

4-H bills itself as the nation’s largest youth development organization, and Arizona 4-H, the youth development program of the University of Arizona, provide nearly 200,000 young people around the state with educational experiences provided by Arizona Cooperative Extension employees to develop critical life skills.

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