An Adams County 4-H member and an extension educator had the distinct pleasure recently of making a trip to Washington, D.C. for the Presidential Inauguration as President Barack Obama was sworn in for his second term as the country's chief executive.
Adams County 4-H member Karlie Harper and extension educator Carolyn Belczyk were part of an Ohio 4-H delegation that made the trip to the nation's capital and enjoyed the sites of the city and were in attendance at the inauguration.
"The trip with the Ohio 4-H group to Washington, D.C. was truly the experience of a lifetime," said Belczyk.
The group heard from several outstanding speakers, visited several museums and monuments, and were there on the National Mall for the Inauguration ceremonies, amongst a crowd of an estimated 1.2 million people. Jumbo-trons were set up at strategic spots on the mall for those back in the crowd.
"It was a diverse crowd to say the least," commented Belczyk. "Regardless of one's political views, it was exciting to witness the actual swearing-in ceremony and hear President Obama deliver his second Inaugural Address."
One of the speakers who addressed the group was Carolyn Lukensmeyer, the first Executive Director of the National Institute for Civil Discourse and founder of AmericaSpeaks. Lukensmeyer also served as Chief of Staff for Ohio Governor Richard Celeste from 1986-1991.
Lukensmeyer spoke in length about the importance of becoming involved in civil discourse over the next four years on any or all of four themes: debt and deficit, immigration, climate change, and gun violence. She spoke about youth action, crediting 4-H for helping her develop the critical skill of public speaking. It was then exciting for the group to hear President Obama address those same themes during his speech.
Harper, the Adams County 4-H member who participated in the trip, enjoyed a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
"I enjoyed meeting all of the different people from across Ohio and making new friends," said the teenager. "Of course, being at the Inauguration was really exciting too."
"Neither Karlie or I enjoyed all the walking though," said Belczyk. "I think we must have walked 10-12 miles on Monday from where our bus was parked to the Mall and back again. The route was extra-long because of all the closed streets due to security and the parade staging."