HOLTVILLE — Two Imperial County 4-H youth members were given an official invitation Friday afternoon to attend the presidential inauguration Jan. 20 in Washington, D.C.
Tomás Oliva, senior representative of Congressman Juan Vargas-51st District, personally delivered the invitation, ticket and an official program each to Seth Hilfiker and Dillon Sanchez, at the University of California Cooperative Extension in Holtville. Oliva said 19 delegates were selected from California and two of those were from Imperial County.
Seth Hilfiker, 15, is a member of Verde 4-H Holtville and a sophomore at Holtville High School. “I am very excited to have the opportunity to go to Washington, D.C.; and not necessarily just go to D.C., but go to D.C. and see the presidential inauguration. That is something that is unheard of here in Imperial Valley,” Hilfiker said.
For Southwest Valley 4-H Club member Dillon Sanchez, 14, this was an opportunity for a big trip outside of Imperial County.
“I was amazed at first. I thought, that’s cool. Something big like this would never actually happen. As it got closer, it became more and more real. And it’s just such an honor, such a great experience to be part of,” Sanchez said.
Shanna Abatti, 4-H Program Representative with the University of California Cooperative Extension, commented on their itinerary. “This is a huge opportunity and definitely once in a lifetime in your high school career to be able to attend. They will be leaving on Monday January 17th. They will travel to D.C. and then participate in a conference that leads up to the inauguration on Friday.”
According to Abatti, Hilfiker and Sanchez will be seated in a special designated area with congressmen, and not with the general public.
At the presidential inauguration of President-elect Donald J. Trump and Vice President-elect Michael R. Pence on January 20, 2017, the President-elect will take the oath of office to formally become the 45th President of the United States of America.
Sanchez, 14, is a student at Imperial High School. “Seeing the inauguration is pretty mind blowing,” he said. “This happens once every four years. And then, for someone to come from where we come, all the way across the country, in a little town, in a little valley, called Imperial or Holtville, to go to Washington D.C. and see Mr. President, Mr. Trump, being inaugurated. That is really special.”
This is even more meaningful for Sanchez because his 15th birthday falls on Jan. 14, about one week prior to the historic event.
According to Abatti, Hilfiker and Sanchez are both senior members in 4-H and have been active in 4-H since they were young, and their journey to Washington will be memorable. “This is definitely a landmark opportunity for our youth. They represent the state and not just the Imperial County. So this is a huge honor,” she remarked.
Hilfiker and Sanchez had to raise funds for the trip by sending letters requesting support to local businesses and by making presentations at Rotary Clubs and other civic organizations.
Oliva, a senior field representative of Congressman Vargas, said he has high hopes for both Hilfiker and Sanchez. “Congressman Vargas is very committed in supporting students and our agricultural community. I hope that they have fun and learn something from it. They are part of history by going. After having met them for a brief moment, I know that they will represent us well,” he said.