As race and race relations have dominated the national conversation over the past few months, University of Nevada, Reno Extension’s 4-H Youth Development Program brought the discussion to the local level in its program, “Vote Your Voice.” During this three-week virtual class, youth ages 17-19 learned about the importance of voting.
Students explored American history, systemic and systematic racism, and the influence voting can have on related policies. They also engaged in an open dialogue about the current political climate and how they can get involved in making a positive change in their community. This civic engagement series was designed and led by Program Coordinator Shay McGee to be interactive and encourage a safe space for students to express themselves.
“Teaching this class allowed me to not only share the history of voting and its role in our government structure, but also witness the conversations that stemmed from the class topics, which demonstrated the amazing consciousness of our youth, and reaffirmed the importance of young people having a safe space where they can learn and share about what is happening around and to them,” McGee said.
Because of the positive response, the “Vote Your Voice” class will again be offered in October. Extension will also offer a coding class for students grades six to eight where participants will use coding to create a public service announcement about voting.
Civic engagement is one of the four program areas for the Nevada 4-H Youth Development Program. The other three program areas are STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math), agriculture and healthy living.