Tuttle's Aubrey McCoy rubbed shoulders with some of the nation's movers and shakers while also shedding light on an important subject when she was selected to attend the National 4-H Conference last month.
McCoy -- 17 and a member of the Oklahoma 4-H Council representing five counties in the southwest of the state -- was one of four out of over 100,000 Oklahoma 4-H members to attend after she was selected for her essay on the issue of bullying. Between April 6 and 11, McCoy and many other delegates not only got to see the nation's capitol up close, but they also got to voice their own opinions on public policy to some important individuals.
"I was part of the Military Youth and Families group, and so we looked at some of the issues they face," McCoy said. "When soldiers deploy, their families are left behind. And they tend to move a lot when soldiers get restationed. Through all that, another challenge is children don't always see enough of their parents."
The solution that was devised by McCoy's group -- and the one she helped present to Pentagon officials -- is a nationwide group to bring together the collective minds of extracurricular groups to make sure children of military families don't become lost in the shuffle.
"It's called the National Teen Council," McCoy said. "It takes the Air Forces teen council and combines it with things like FFA, 4-H, FCCLA, and other organizations. It would help get kids more involved, and also it would spread awareness for struggles faced by military families."
Over the course of the six days in D.C., McCoy also got to meet the individuals representing Oklahoman values in the Capitol.
"We had what's called a Capitol Hill Day, where we met all of the congressional representatives and senators for the state," she said. "They talked to us, but also we told them what we were doing and how much we appreciate funding for 4-H."
McCoy will be a senior next year and is beginning to consider how she'll spend her time after high school, in college and beyond. While she said she doesn't really know what she'd like to pursue, 4-H and the National Conference has helped in her decision.
"I love talking to people and working with people on problems, but that's about the extent of what I know right now," McCoy said. "The main thing about 4-H is it's helped with my confidence. I was the typical shy kid, but when I began 4-H I started doing workshops and demonstrations. I also really enjoy mentoring. I never thought I'd be interested in something like teaching, but it's a great experience."
She said she is grateful for what the organization has done for her and wants to continue beyond 4-H council member status to become state president this summer.
"In my hometown, it doesn't seem like people are too fond of 4-H," McCoy said. "But, I don't think I could rise to that level in any other organization."