A story on school budget cuts is discussed by

teen delegates at the

2011 WSU 4-H Know Your

Government conference in Olympia.

News bias is discussed by teen delegates at

the 2011 WSU 4-H

Know Your Government

conference in Olympia.

Teens practice interviewing skills using a Flip

Cam at the 2011 WSU

4-H Know Your

Government conference in Olympia.
Three teens editing their video at the 2011
WSU 4-H Know Your Government
conference in Olympia.

OLYMPIA, Wash. – “I knew there was bias, but I didn’t know how much it impacted the news,” said 17-year old Emma Crane, one of more than 250 youth and volunteers from across the state who gathered in Olympia last week for the 2011 WSU Extension 4-H “Know Your Government” Conference. “Now, I will look more at the source, the reporters, and will definitely research my news and where I get it,” said Crane, a high school senior from Vancouver.
 
She and other teens became news reporters, videographers, researchers, producers, and editors during the four-day conference, examining issues of illegal immigration, year-round schools, teen violence and Internet privacy. Adult volunteers served as mock sources, outlining positions on various topics at news conferences. The students were charged with creating a news broadcast incorporating different viewpoints on the issues.
 
Katiebeth Lukehart, 18, from Sedro Woolley, said she learned  bias is sometimes difficult to detect.

“Recognizing bias is an active process.  I’m more aware now and will not assume the reporter is unbiased,” said Lukehart, who plans on becoming a history teacher. “I will be diligent in getting more information which will help me make more educated decisions.”
 
Empowering youth to recognize issues that impact them now and in the future, understanding the legislative process, and taking active roles in their communities is key to the Know Your Government Conference.
 
“Learning how to use their voice to influence local and state elected officials is vital to their understanding of democracy,” said Jan Klein, WSU Extension 4-H Adolescent Leadership Specialist. “Some of our teen delegates are already active in their counties, state, and even at the national level. But, for many, this is the first opportunity to really comprehend they have the skills, ability, and, in fact, right, to participate with adults in this legislative environment.”
 
Workshop sessions included how to write for broadcast, Flip phone videography, research techniques, and editing digital media.  Teens were also able to attend sessions on creating youth/adult partnerships, community building, and youth activism.
 
Alex Laughery, 18, said the conference has taught him a lot about leadership, success, and hearing both sides of an issue. “I want to keep an open mind,” said the Highland, Yakima County senior.  “I’ll access more websites to keep informed and make better decisions that impact my life.”
 
To learn more about the WSU Extension 4-H access:  http://4h.wsu.edu