Dozens of high school students from across the 36th Senate District participated in a unique, hands-on experience in public policy, state government, and leadership Oct. 29 in Moline, as part of State Sen. Neil Anderson’s Youth Advisory Council.
“The passion, knowledge, and enthusiasm from these students is awesome and refreshing,” Anderson said. “Whether these students have an interest in public policy, representing their community in some fashion, or are simply interested in learning more about government, this experience – I hope – fuels their desire even more.”
Anderson spoke about how Illinois government works, shared his experiences at the Statehouse, and explained how public policy can shape the students’ everyday lives.
Students also spent time in small groups discussing and debating policy issues and how any new proposal could face challenges or become successful legislation. During these discussions, Sen. Anderson spent time with each small group, asking students questions about their proposed policy changes and how they would advocate for their issues.
“I am thinking about going into law, so this is an opportunity to learn more,” said Josh Hammer from Erie High School. “At our school, a lot of us have the same beliefs. So here, we can discuss the opposite views, and that is great for us because we are kind of secluded where we’re at.”
“I am really interested in politics, especially state and local politics, so I thought this would be a great option and experience for me,” said Emily Buikema from Rock Falls Township H.S. “A lot of students at my school are not as politically interested as I am, so it’s great to get to know students that share my interests.”
“I came here because I can’t shut my mouth up about politics,” said Grant Jacobs from Moline High School. “I thought this would be a great opportunity to engage with other students that are deeply interested and want to be involved in politics. I hope to one day have a future career in politics.”
Students also heard from Quad Cities Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Paul Rumler, Communications Manager of Deere and Company Lori Bippus, Hungry Hobo President and CEO Pryce Boeye, and Rock Island Mayor Mike Thoms. The panel shared stories of their experiences in the workforce and provided first-hand knowledge about public policy, leadership, and how to be successful.
Sen. Anderson hosted the all-day Youth Advisory Council in Moline at the Western Illinois University Quad Cities campus. Students were selected by their principals and teachers from United Township High School, Moline High School, Rockridge High School, Fulton High School, Erie High School, Riverdale High School, East Moline Christian School, Rock Falls Township High School, Quad Cities Christian School, and Newman Central Catholic High School in Sterling.
In the spring, Sen. Anderson’s Youth Advisory Council continues when students visit the Statehouse in Springfield. There, they will tour the Capitol, experience the legislative process up-close, be active participants in a mock committee hearing, and hear from legislative leaders about what it’s like to do their job.
Sen. Anderson started his Youth Advisory Council in 2016.