Dozens of high school students from across the 38th Senate District participated in a unique, hands-on experience in public policy, state government and leadership Nov. 27, as part of state Sen. Sue Rezin’s Youth Advisory Council.
“This is one of my favorite experiences of the year because I get to meet so many incredible, hardworking, and enthusiastic young people,” Rezin said in a press release. “The next time I hear someone say that young people are not interested in public policy and are not engaged in the issues, I will tell them about this group of students. My belief that there are plenty of talented and smart people to be tomorrow’s leaders is always reinforced by this Youth Advisory Council. ”
Rezin hosted the all-day Youth Advisory Council in Morris, with students selected by their principals and teachers from Morris Community High School, St. Bede Academy, Ottawa Township High School, Streator Township High School, Wilmington High School, Coal City High School, Reed Custer High School, Newark High School, Hall High School and Serena High School.
Rezin spoke about how Illinois government works, shared her 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 important to them and how any new proposal could face challenges or become successful legislation.
During these discussions, Rezin spent time with each small group, asking students questions about their proposed policy change and how they would advocate for their issue.
Students also heard from U.S. Congressman Adam Kinzinger, state Rep. David Welter and Tawnya Mack, a CPA and partner at Mack and Associates in Morris.
The panel shared stories of their experiences in the workforce and provided firsthand knowledge about public policy, leadership and how to be successful.
“I am interested in local politics, so I thought it would be a good idea to come out to this and get involved,” said Christian Riggs from Morris Community High School. “I thought our conversation about current issues like legalizing marijuana was interesting and hearing from Congressman Kinzinger talk about what it’s like to be a member of Congress was interesting.”
In the spring, Sen. Rezin’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. Rezin started her Youth Advisory Council in the spring 2016.