Baldwin students to take part in Capitol Experience Tour

BALDWIN — Several Baldwin High School students will be traveling to Lansing later this month to take part in the 4-H Capitol Experience program.

The program will last between Sunday, March 20, and Wednesday, March 23. Students were selected by the school district by their interest in government and civics classes and will get to tours of Lansing, meet some of the politicians representing them and take part in a simulation of a bill creation.

"The Capitol Experience is a four-day event from Sunday to Wednesday," explained Seth Hopkins, the Lake County 4-H coordinator and group leader for the program. "We have seven participants who will be traveling down to Lansing to learn about civics and government. They will also meet state representatives and get tours of the different capitol buildings."

This will be the eighth year Hopkins has led such a group, and Lake County groups have been taking part in the Capitol Experience program for more than 25 years. The kids will do far more than sit and listen to lectures as the program is built to engage them with interactive programs to teach them how government works.

"The students will all be divided into different segment groups and each group will play a different part while they simulate the creation of a bill," said Hopkins. "They'll be meeting other kids from around the state and each group will meet with and work with professionals related to their particular group."

Hopkins said this is highly beneficial to the kids as it will not only educate them, but also inspire them to do great things and possibly take a hand in government.

"Hopefully, this will inspire some kids to get involved in government or at least grow some interest in local civics," remarked Hopkins. "Any time we can get kids out of Lake County so they can experience the wider world is great and helps expose them to different opportunities they may have never considered otherwise."

The group is closed for this year, but students who are interested can start inquiring about joining next year's Capitol Experience by contacting Hopkins at (231) 745-2732. Interested high school students can also sign up about the upcoming Exploration Days college tour Hopkins is leading in June.

"This program is hands-on, which is what 4-H is all about," said Hopkins. "These kids are getting 40 hours of direct, first-hand involvement with government. The lessons they will learn are even more important and meaningful than usual because it's an election year."