Organizations that help develop leadership skills

We had a gallery and house full of 4-Hers at the Capitol on Monday of this past week in honor of 4-H Day. I had the pleasure of taking a picture with a good group from La Plata County in front of the “well” where potential laws and resolutions are argued on the House floor.

I was blessed to participate in 4-H for 10 years when I was a youngster and it had a profound influence on my life, helping me to learn responsibility for myself, my animals, my land and our environment, and for helping me to develop leadership skills. One of the highlights of my 4-H career was shaking hands with President Richard Nixon in Chicago at the National 4-H Congress. I owe much of my success to the 4-H program and especially to the volunteer leaders that made things happen. One of those La Plata County leaders, Emma Shock, was at the Capitol on Monday just like she has been every year for decades. What a great example for the rest of us.

Another group that has had a great influence on my life also was in Denver this past week. The Colorado Farm Bureau had its annual legislative conference on Tuesday and Wednesday. Legislators were invited to a dinner on Tuesday night where we learned about farm and ranch concerns and Farm Bureau legislative priorities. We also enjoyed talking to real farmers and ranchers and ate a delicious meal. Farm Bureau has excellent grassroots policy development process. Every policy in their comprehensive state and national policy book must have been introduced first at the county level. The policy is then debated and adopted at the state level by representatives elected from each county organization. American Farm Bureau policy is argued and adopted by representatives of each state. Farm Bureau leadership must not deviate from, and legislative opposition or support must be based on, that policy.

Much of my leadership experience has come from Farm Bureau where I participated at the county, state, and national levels.

The past week on the legislative front was packed with lots of committee and floor action. The county commissioner election bill was passed out of the House and will now go to the Senate, where it will be ably sponsored by former county commissioner and Senate Democrat Jeanne Nicholson from Eagle County.

Additionally, Republican State Rep. Libby Szabo got her “Plain Language Bill” through the House State Veterans and Military Affairs Committee. House Bill 1024 had bipartisan support in committee and will make Colorado’s ballots easier to understand by requiring the ballot, for statewide initiated and referred measures, to be written in a way to avoid technical language and use accurate, and clear language that voters can understand. Last year this same bill was killed by the Democrats in the Senate. I hope that won’t be the case this year. The measure now goes to the House floor for second readings where I will give it enthusiastic support.

J. Paul Brown represents House District 59 in Colorado’s General Assembly. The district encompasses San Juan, Archuleta and La Plata counties and parts of Montezuma County. Contact Rep. Brown at (303) 866-2914 or by e-mail at

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