This post was written by Mary Johns, Collegiate 4-H
Running for a state office, win or lose, is an invaluable experience. Youth learn how to network, present themselves, and gain valuable public speaking, campaign strategy, and planning experience. It is also a potentially stressful or intimidating process and adult volunteers can be a huge help. From my experience running for state office, here are ways I think adults volunteers can help the most.
Listen to their speech 100 times, then maybe 100 more! Be a sounding board for ideas and don’t be afraid to give constructive criticism. But remember the campaign experience is ultimately about the youth running. Make sure the campaign theme/slogan is something the candidate is comfortable with and excited about.
Teamwork is an important part of 4-H and running for office. Club members can provide man power to make materials, help campaign at 4-H University, and get the word out about their candidate. There is no way I could have run for office without the amazing support of my 4-H family. Have a sign making party, encourage attendance at voting delegate assemblies to show support, and give people specific jobs (sign holding, handing out flyers, etc.)
The time around 4-H University is hectic with last minute contest preparations. The more completed early, the better.
It is almost guaranteed something will go wrong while campaigning. My banner was falling apart, someone spilled Canes sauce on my dress 5 minutes before I went on stage, and 200 of my bracelets vanished. The best thing that you can do is provide stability and a calming influence in the midst of a stressful situation. Practically, be prepared with extra supplies (tape, markers, etc.).
It may seem intimidating in the beginning, but with persistent effort and support, running for office is manageable.The opportunities 4-Hers have while being a state officer are incredible, as is the caliber and diversity of people you encounter.Encourage your members to run for office, it’s a decision they won’t regret!
The LSU AgCenter and the LSU College of Agriculture