Sen. Bradley endowment sends Clay County 4-H youth to Tallahassee

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Johan Ibrahim, 14, isn’t even in high school. But as he walked through the Florida Capitol building, he felt like a grown up.

“By the end of the week, I felt like I was really responsible. I learned that preparation is key,” said Ibrahim. He was visiting the Capitol as part of 4-H Legislature, which draws about 200 youth from across Florida each year to act out a mock legislative session.

Ibrahim would not have been able to attend 4-H Legislature without the help of the Senator Rob Bradley 4-H Leadership Endowment, which funds scholarships to 4-H Legislature for Clay County youth. Three students, including Ibrahim, were able to attend 4-H Legislature on these scholarships.

Three Clay County youth attended 4-H Legislatures in Tallahassee.

“This is the first time we’ve been able to provide these scholarships, and it has increased local participation in the program,” said Stephanie Conner, 4-H youth development agent. The Florida 4-H program is administered by the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences Extension.

“It is my hope that this endowment will inspire generations of Clay County students to become directly engaged with their government,” Senator Bradley said. “We have so many talented students in Clay County. This program will hopefully play a small part in giving those talented students the tools they need to make their community and their state a better place.”

Brad Burbaugh, director of UF/IFAS Extension Clay County, expects even more local youth to take advantage of the scholarships next year.

“This endowment has allowed our 4-H members an opportunity to gain an in-depth understanding of the legislative process,” Burbaugh said. “I know the legacy of this gift will help us develop the next generation of local leaders who have the skills to engage in civic and political processes.”

At 4-H Legislature, youth spend five days in one of several legislative roles, such senator, representative and lobbyist. Participants carry out the exercise in the Capitol’s legislative chamber.

“Going into the chamber was very cool. It has an air of importance because that’s where they actually make the laws,” Ibrahim said.

Ibrahim was a lobbyist tasked with convincing representatives and their committees to vote against a specific bill. He worked hard to perfect his pitch, and his peers nominated him for the outstanding lobbyist award, an impressive feat for a first-timer, Burbaugh noted.

“I honestly think that I was nominated because I was fighting an uphill battle, and I still chose to commit fully to being against that bill,” Ibrahim said.

All three Clay County attendees are excited to attend next year’s 4-H Legislature in more advanced roles.

Next time I would like to be a representative because I think it would be interesting,” Ibrahim said. “I want to go back next year because it gives you such an empowering feeling.”

If you would like to support Clay County 4-H youth through the Senator Rob Bradley Endowment, visit www.uff.ufl.edu/appeals/Bradley4H. For more information about establishing an endowment at the University of Florida, please contact Christy Chiarelli, senior director of UF/IFAS Advancement, at ccw@ufl.edu or 352-273-0353.

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By: Samantha Grenrock, 352-294-3307, grenrosa@ufl.edu

The mission of the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences is to develop knowledge relevant to agricultural, human and natural resources and to make that knowledge available to sustain and enhance the quality of human life. With more than a dozen research facilities, 67 county Extension offices, and award-winning students and faculty in the UF College of Agricultural and Life Sciences, UF/IFAS works to bring science-based solutions to the state’s agricultural and natural resources industries, and all Florida residents. Visit the UF/IFAS web site at ifas.ufl.edu and follow us on social media at @UF_IFAS.

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