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Posted: June 7, 2014 10:00 p.m.

DC or bust!

In Georgia 4-H, most of us call Rock Eagle our home away from home.

In other states, I’ve heard a lot of 4-H’ers call the National 4-H Center in Chevy Chase, Maryland, the home of all 4-H’ers.

With so many active 4-H members in Georgia, it’s a rare opportunity to represent Georgia 4-H at a national event at the National 4-H Center.

One of those opportunities is Citizenship Washington Focus each summer.

I’m in the car right now with Newton 4-H’er MaKenzy McCord and Stephens County 4-H’er AJ Howard on our way to join 4-H’ers from several states across the country for 6 days of exploring our nation’s capitol.

My dad, 4-H volunteer Doug Kimble, is also with us. It isn’t his first trip along this road with 4-H’ers; his first was 20 years ago on my first 4-H exchange trip to Warren, Pennsylvania.

We drove through Washington, DC, along our route, with an unexpected highway stop for a flat tire on the 4-H van.
I have to admit, I don’t feel 20 years older than the two rising tenth graders in the back seat. I’ll let you know if that changes by the time we’re on the way back next Saturday.

(It’s even harder to believe my parents had a high schooler at my age, when I’m expecting my first child four months from today!)

Today (Saturday) we’ll drive through to Staunton, Virginia. Tomorrow we have an easy morning and afternoon until check in at the 4-H Center in the afternoon.

The 4-H’ers will be assigned to committees and start getting to know youth from across the country.

A 4-H Program Assistant will be assigned to our group for the weeks’ activities and tours. We have a busy schedule planned alongside the classes, congressional visits and time with other 4-H delegations.

I imagine we’ll get a lot of attention; everyone has heard about Georgia 4-H.

In many states, the bulk of 4-H’ers are from rural areas and participate in livestock projects.

They’ll find it hard to believe the Georgia 4-H’ers with us teach Health Rocks and bullying prevention. They’ll try to describe Rock Eagle 4-H Center and how it will feel with 1,000 high schoolers a few weeks from now at State 4-H Council, but most will probably think that sounds pretty unbelievable.

The first thing I’m really excited about is Monday night’s night light tour of the monuments.

Throughout the week we’ll get to tour sites from Mt. Vernon to the Vietnam Wall.

On that first trip 20 years ago, my strongest memory is of my dad looking for his friend’s name on the wall. On this trip, I look forward to seeing the WWII monument for the first time.

We’ll also visit with some of our elected officials and get a tour from Rep. Austin’s intern and Georgia 4-H alum Tess Hammock.

For both 4-H’ers, this is their first trip to the nation’s capitol. One said the furthest she’s been from home is Tennessee; the other visited Indiana and Colorado. Neither has been this far on a road trip.

They’ve requested to visit the White House (I had no idea you had to request a tour so far in advance) and Smithsonian museums.

With 19 Smithsonians to choose from, we’ve narrowed our favorites down to American history and natural history.
AJ is also active with Army JROTC and his local Sheriff’s Office Explorer Post, so he’s hoping to see anything military or law enforcement related.

Mostly, we’re all just excited to see the National 4-H Center and everything possible in DC.

I’m not sure how much extra we’ll be able to cram into our 6 days in town, but no matter what we see or do I’m sure it’s a trip none of us will ever forget.

Perhaps 20 years from now MaKenzy or AJ will be headed up the highway as chaperones, talking about their first trip to DC with 4-H.

I just hope they don’t have a flat-tire-in-the-rain story to share with their 4-H’ers! Cross your fingers and tune in next week to hear all about our trip.

Terri Kimble Fullerton is a Newton County 4-H Agent through UGA Cooperative Extension. She can be reached at tkimble@uga.edu.

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