Nobles County 4-H'er attends presidential inauguration
FULDA — Camryn Baumhoefner, a junior at Fulda High School, had an opportunity that not many kids get to experience. Through the Minnesota 4-H Citizenship Washington Focus: Presidential Inauguration Program, Baumhoefner traveled to Washington, D.C., to watch as Donald Trump took the oath of office as the 45th U.S. President on Jan. 20.
During her time in D.C., Baumhoefner had four days of new experiences and first times. She experienced the “roller coaster” feeling in her stomach while her airplane took off from Minneapolis on the morning of Jan. 17. It was the first time she traveled with strangers, who later became her friends, and it was the first time she felt the chilly wind of D.C. touching her face.
“I was really nervous because I had never flown in a plane before,” Baumhoefner said. “I really enjoyed meeting new people who share the same interests as me.”
Inauguration Day started quite early for Baumhoefner, who left the National 4-H Conference Center at 6:30 a.m., only to stand for more than four hours and wait for Donald Trump to be sworn in as president.
Baumhoefner said she was expecting a much larger crowd. Although the chantings and the yelling didn’t allow her really hear any of the speeches, she could clearly listen what people were saying around her.
“They would say “Yes” every time Trump spoke, but then when Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama would appear on the screen, they would start booing or yelling some mean stuff,” Baumhoefner said.
“Put her in jail” Baumhoefner heard a man yelling across from her. Although Baumhoefner said they all had the right to express their opinions, she thought those attitudes were setting a bad example for many of the young kids who attended the event.
“It was weird,” Baumhoefner said. “The people booing were grown adults and when I think about something like that, I would think of little kids. There were over 500 kids just through 4-H... There were a bunch of 5- and 6-year-olds there and they were saying all kinds of bad things.”
Despite the yelling, Baumhoefner said the people didn’t go beyond screaming while she was there.
“I thought there would be more protesters, but there were just a couple on the way in and the way out,” Baumhoefner said. “I thought that people would start pushing each other, but we really just stood there and people were just chanting and taking a lot of videos.”
Before the presidential inauguration, Baumhoefner spent three days attending several workshops that taught her about the election process, democracy and the role of the media in politics. She admitted that before the trip, she didn’t pay too much attention to politics, but after having a better understanding of what happens behind scenes, her curiosity grew stronger.
“I realized how lucky we are to live in a democratic country,” Baumhoefner said. “I never thought about the important role of media in politics, because they are the ones who put the information out there.”
Learning so much about politics and having a better understanding about how bills and laws are passed has encouraged Baumhoefner to be more informed about the government.
“I will definitely start reading more about it.” she said. “I would normally just go to school and I would hear what everybody is saying and that's how I got to know what's going on.”
Baumhoefner’s trip wasn’t limited to the workshops. She was able to get a closer look to her country’s past while visiting some of the most famous monuments and museums in the nation’s capital. She toured the National Museum of American History, and admired the imposing Martin Luther King and Lincoln Memorials, just to name a few.
Of all of the places Baumhoefner went, she said the Newseum was the most eye-opening experience of the whole trip. While she couldn't visit all of the exhibitions, she was able to get a glimpse of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks through photos, videos and testimonies that made her relive that day.
“The Sept. 11 gallery really shocked me because they have one of the pieces of the building that fell down and then they have the exact times of when everything happened,” Baumhoefner said. “Just hearing the stories of some of the family members ... I knew about it and I knew that a lot of people died that day ... but once you sit down and listen, those stories are so powerful.”
While at the Newseum, Baumhoefner also stood just a few feet away from remains of the Berlin Wall and learned about some of the most famous cases the FBI has dealt with, such as the Boston Marathon bombing.
Baumhoefner’s trip to D.C. taught her a great deal about politics and gave her the chance to experience first-hand one of the most important events of her country. It also showed her that if people want to see improvement or change, they need to step up.
“I realized that people need to get more involved and that every vote counts,” Baumhoefner said. “Even if it’s just one vote it can change everything. So, if you want to see change you have to get your voice heard — say what you feel. If you didn't vote, you really don't have the right to be complaining.”