Germantown — It’s a once-in-a-lifetime trip more than a year in the making and two Ozaukee County 4-H club members couldn’t be more excited.
Alaina Knier and Ella Hoerchner are among 31 Wisconsin 4-H students who earned the right to travel to Washington, D.C., to witness President-elect Donald Trump’s inauguration on Friday, Jan. 20.
“I am honestly so excited about the trip,” said Knier, a 16-year-old Grafton High School junior, as she prepared her things earlier this week. “The election hadn’t happened yet when I first applied, but I followed everything so closely throughout so it’s definitely going to be an honor to see firsthand how the whole process comes together.”
Knier, who is president of the local 4-H chapter, said she can’t wait to immerse herself in everything the nation’s capital has to offer while she’s there.
“It’s really an unprecedented situation for our country to be as divided as it is, so I’m anxious to experience everything involved with that as well as learning more about leadership.”
Accompanied by four chaperones, Washington County 4-H Youth Development Educator Brianna Stapleton Welch said the group will left Jan. 17 and will return Jan. 21.
“Preparation for this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity has spanned over more than a year,” said Welch.
The national 4-H organization offered 500 tickets to local chapters throughout the country.
“The tickets were gone within the hour, which I think is a testament to the fact that our youth really value this kind of opportunity,” Welch said.
In Wisconsin, tickets were gone within one minute, Ozaukee County 4-H Youth Development Educator Kathy Butler added.
“We actually had six students who were eligible to attend, but only two of ours got in through the first-come, first-served registration online,” she said. “Still, we are pretty excited about them having the chance to be at the inauguration and really experience the democratic process firsthand.”
Tours are scheduled throughout the week prior to the inauguration, including tours of the White House, the U.S. Capitol, the Newseum and various other landmarks.
A mock election will also be conducted through 4-H, Butler said, in addition to a variety of other leadership and citizenship programming.
“These are the future leaders of our state, of our country,” said Welch. “Not only will this trip offer them a unique chance to grow as leaders and develop skills as potential public servants, but they get to learn about what leadership looks like and what they would like to see in the leaders they follow.”
“Ultimately, our hope is that they better understand the democratic process and how government impacts our organization,” Butler added. “But also, we hope they learn more about how they can have a positive impact on their community.”
That is one of the primary takeaways Knier hopes to gain from the trip: how to cultivate herself as a leader.
“I know (the inauguration) is going to be a really importnat moment in our country’s history,” she said. “I want to witness the divide in our country and learn firsthand how there can be so many differences that, at least in my opinion, are at the same time the similarities that unite us.”