For The Children Weekly Column

Oklahoma Youth Legislative Experience Set to Educate 4-H, FFA Students

May 2, 2022

“For the Children” Weekly Column by Joe Dorman, OICA CEO


Contact: Joe Dorman, CEO – Oklahoma Institute for Child Advocacy

Telephone: (405) 833-1117


OKLAHOMA CITY – For young people in schools across our nation, and even around the world, extracurricular activities are vital for social and emotional development. Oklahoma is fortunate to be home to some of the best youth programs in the nation, no matter where you might live in our state.

The importance of these opportunities is not lost on lawmakers as they, through the years, have placed into law an allowable number of school day absences for educational opportunities and competitions. They also have enacted tax breaks for those offered through nonprofit organizations.

I was truly blessed by my participation in 4-H, Cub Scouts, church activities, school clubs, and even paging for Sen. Ray Giles at the Oklahoma State Capitol my junior year. My work even paid off as I earned some scholarships through work in these programs. They helped my studies in college, which also had extracurricular outlets through groups like the Oklahoma Intercollegiate Legislature and the Student Government Association. These activities led me down the path of public service to where I am now with the Oklahoma Institute for Child Advocacy (OICA).

Seeing the need for further such opportunities for young people, Rep. Rick West wrote legislation to increase those allowed days of school absences for 4-H. I applaud this idea as opportunities like this help young people reach their greatest potential. Unfortunately, his bill, House Bill 2991, did not move forward this year; Even so, I suspect he will try this again. Anything which heightens these opportunities through activities, without hurting students’ grades, is a win for building better leaders.

Along this path, OICA is pleased to work with Oklahoma Farm Bureau on an upcoming endeavor called the Oklahoma Youth Legislative Experience (OYLE) for incoming 4-H and FFA sophomores, juniors, and seniors. Based on the old Club Congress model done by 4-H for years, we will be leading a two-day mock legislature for these students at the Oklahoma State Capitol.

This camp will be held on July 12-13 and will allow the youth programs to have an equal number of delegates within the mock Senate and House of Representatives, therefore acting like political parties. The leadership team from each organization will be the presiding officer team in one of the bodies and will simulate the way a legislature operates. I will assist the students write legislation for their presentation, and work with current and former lawmakers to help serve as teaching assistants to guide the students through the process of debate and consideration of bills.

If you know of a 4-Her or FFA student who might be interested in this activity, it is not too late to sign up! You can have them go to if they are in FFA or to if they are in 4-H to apply.

I am also pleased to share that OICA will have a big announcement coming next week associated with our Kid Governor program. We are thrilled to have been working with former Oklahoma Governors George Nigh, David Walters, Frank Keating, Brad Henry, and Mary Fallin to unveil our revised program.

In the revamped Kid Governor program, fifth grade students across Oklahoma will the opportunity to gain experience about the state government process and participate in policy issues involving youth. Stay tuned for this exciting announcement!