Approximately 50 high school students from across the 36th Senate District participated in a unique, hands-on experience in public policy, state government, and leadership on November 19 during State Senator Neil Anderson’s annual Youth Advisory Council.
“I enjoy hosting the event every year,” said Sen. Anderson. “It gives me the chance to not only teach students about state government and public policy, but it also allows me to better understand the interests and perspectives of today’s youth. These students are our future, so not listening to their concerns would be a huge mistake.”
Sen. Anderson hosted the all-day event at Western Illinois University Quad Cities. Participating students were selected by teachers and principals from East Moline Christian, Erie, Moline, Newman Central Catholic, Riverdale, Rockridge, United Township, and Sterling high schools.
Students started off the day hearing from not only Sen. Anderson, but a variety of other speakers including Mike Thoms, Rock Island Mayor; Tara Mayhew, Rock Island County Farm Bureau Manager; Joanne Woodward, Deere & Company Government Affairs Representative; and Tony McCombie, Illinois State Representative (71st District).
Students then broke off into groups, where they were asked to work together to develop ideas for possible new state legislation. During these discussions, Sen. Anderson spent time with each small group, asking students questions about their proposed policy change and how they would advocate for their issue. At the end of the day, each group presented their proposal and took questions from the rest of the group.
“I’m glad I came to this Youth Advisory Council because I love politics and the idea that I can have an effect on what happens in the future is really exciting,” said Gunnar Wuebben, Erie High School student.
“This was a great opportunity to learn about government and be more engaged in my community,” said Abida Diasso-Adamou, United Township High School student. “To be a part of this program was really enjoyable, and it’s awesome to know that your senator actually wants to hear what you have to say.”
“The amount of knowledge and interest these students have on current events and policy gives me an even greater hope that our future is in good hands,” said Sen. Anderson. “I hope that this advisory council reinforces their interest and that many of them will consider public service as a career option.”
Sen. Anderson’s Youth Advisory Council is a two-part experience. Students will meet with Sen. Anderson again in the spring where they will participate in a mock committee hearing at the State Capitol in Springfield.