4-Hers go to state capitol to promote youth program

By Kristina Gabalski, Correspondent Posted 19 May 2016 at 12:00 am

Photo by Kristina Gabalski – Delegates to the 81st Annual NYS 4-H Capital Days held in Albany from Sunday through Tuesday pose on the “Million Dollar Staircase” inside the Capitol building. The architectural wonder took 14 years to construct and is made partially of Medina sandstone. The delegates, including John Gabalski and Rachel Gregoire of the Orleans County 4-H program, pose with NYS Assembly Member Clifford Crouch (bottom right).

Orleans County 4-Hers John Gabalski and Rachel Gregoire sit in the NYS Assembly Chamber Monday morning prior to hearing from Assembly Member Clifford Crouch, who explained how the NYS Assembly works.

State Sen. Robert Ortt is pictured with Rachel Gregoire, John Gabalski and his mother Kristina Gabalski, a chaperone for the trip. She is also a correspondent for the Orleans Hub.

Two Orleans County 4-Hers traveled to Albany on May 15-17 for the 81st Annual 4-H Capital Days.  Rachel Gregoire of Murray and John Gabalski of Byron represented Orleans County at the 4-H teen program, which works to help participants achieve a better understanding of the NYS public policy process and state and local government relations.

4-H members also met with legislators, learned about career opportunities in NYS government, and met and exchanged experiences with delegates from other counties.

The event included meetings with State Senator Robert Ortt and State Assemblyman Steve Hawley in their offices as well as a visit to the NYS Assembly and Senate chambers, a tour of the Capitol Building, a visit to the New York State Court of Appeals, and agency presentations by NYSERDA, the NYS Department of Agriculture and Markets, the NYS Department of Education, the NYS Department of Health, the NYS Department of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation, and the NYS Department of Corrections.

Lieutenant Gov. Kathy Hochul addressed the delegates Tuesday afternoon.  A former 4-H’er, Hochul called herself, “the highest ranked 4-H’er in the State of New York. You are getting exposed to things that your peers cannot compete with,” Hochul told delegates.

As teen leaders, she advised participants to help guide their peers. “Your fellow New Yorkers need you,” Hochul said.  “You are in the right place in an organization that will give you skills to benefit you in the future.”

She said she learned many valuable life skills as a 4-H’er growing up in western New York, including public speaking.

“Seize every opportunity you can get,” the lieutenant governor said.

Participants were also able to visit the Corning Tower, the New York State Museum, the New York State Vietnam Memorial and other attractions in the area of the Empire State Plaza as time allowed.