Empowering Youth Voices: My Journey Facilitating the National Academy's Out-of-School Time Setting Meeting in D.C.

Jul 5, 2024

Empowering Youth Voices: My Journey Facilitating the National Academy's Out-of-School Time Setting Meeting in D.C.

Jul 5, 2024

During the first week of February, I flew a total of 10 hours to the Nation's capital, Washington D.C., to facilitate a meeting hosted by the National Academy of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine.  The meeting was a public information gathering session for the Committee on Out of School Time Settings.

The Committee collected insights through a discussion between young people and staff from various out-of-school programs on the east coast. My role was to connect with the youth speakers, guide their insightful conversation, and make them feel at ease. The six youth speakers made my job smooth and pleasant. They shared their lived experiences participating in or supporting out-of-school programs. From the elementary schooler to the high school graduate, these young rockstars contributed their perspectives on program quality, barriers to access, and measuring success.

This amazing opportunity was above and beyond what I could have imagined. I learned about different out-of-school programs, interacted with their leaders, and met passionate, prudent people from the National Academies (See image below to see a few.) As a California 4-H alumna, former State Ambassador, and current California 4-H Communications Intern, my participation accentuated the positive impact that youth development organizations like 4-H have on youth.

Fulfilling My Spark

On my three-day trip, I strolled in Downtown Washington D.C., lunched at the Judiciary Park, and tasted yummy treats from allergy-friendly restaurants. PUH! (or "finally" in English) To top it off, I finally got the opportunity to visit the Starbucks Signing Store! This Starbucks store is staffed by a diverse team of employees who are all fluent in American Sign Language (ASL). As an avid ASL student, signer, and enthusiast, visiting the store has been a dream of mine since my first years of high school. I excitedly ordered myself a venti coffee, communicating fully in ASL. I am actively working to become an ASL interpreter—this visit not only solidified that goal but reinforced my desire.

Keep scrolling for some photos from my trip.

I am at a loss for words to describe the gratitude and giddiness I felt before, during, and now, after this trip. I continuously pinched myself in Washington D.C. because this adventure felt like a dream. Fortunately, it was indeed a dream come true.

Editor's note

Watch Eve in action! The website includes a video recording of the entire meeting, broken up into four parts. You can see the change in the youth presenters as Eve makes them more comfortable with speaking and sharing in front of a room of adults. You can hear similarities to how 4-H engages youth and encourages them to thrive. Eve shares about her 4-H experiences to fill in spaces when the youth are thinking about their answers.

Part 1

  • 3:17 Eve is introduced to facilitate the youth discussion
  • 30:25-31:22 Eve shares about her experience at Ag Day at the Capitol to spark discussion about the ways their afterschool program gave them experiences that impacted them.

Part 4

The youth panel and program staff answer Q&A. The discussions continue about why quality youth programs are needed and should be supported, and the impact they make on youth.

Eve's facilitation skills impressed the Committee on Out of School Time Settings and they invited her to continue as a facilitator for Part 2 on April 18th. That meeting included a 4-H Healthy Living Ambassador from Hopi 4-H in Arizona. The recording of that meeting will be posted on their website.


By Suzanne Morikawa
Editor - YFC Marketing and Communications Specialist