Idaho youth leadership

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Helen Keller wrote in 1930, “It is not possible for civilization to flow backward while there is youth in this world.” Meeting with Idaho delegates to the U.S. Senate Youth Program (USSYP) is a reminder of the great promise for the future of our state and nation found in Idaho’s young leaders.

The U.S. Senate established the USSYP 55 years ago to recognize the leadership potential of students elected to student body offices in high schools across the U.S. and encourage the deepening of their interest in and understanding of our country’s political process. The program is meant to increase an understanding of the interrelationships of the three branches of government, the responsibilities of federal officials and the importance of decision-making.

Through the program, 104 delegates (two representing each state, the District of Columbia and the Department of Defense Education Activity) are selected via a competitive process to travel to Washington, D.C., to learn about our federal government and leadership. Idaho has been designating two delegates per year to participate. I had the honor of joining fellow Idaho Senator Jim Risch in announcing the two Idaho students selected as this year’s Idaho delegates to the 55th annual USSYP held March 4 to March 11, 2017, in Washington, D.C.

This year, Kathy Mae Min and Ian Robert Muir, both of Boise, were chosen from students across Idaho to be part of the student delegation who attended the program’s annual Washington Week. Kathy is captain of Centennial High School’s debate team and president of its environmental club. Upon graduation, Kathy, who also serves as vice president of the Idaho Young Democrats, would like to study political science in college and attend law school.

Ian Muir has served in numerous leadership positions at Mountain View High School. He is Student Body Vice President and also served as Freshman Class Representative and Sophomore and Junior Class President. Additionally, Ian is a member of the school’s track and cross country teams and serves on the West Ada School District Superintendents Advisory Council. He also is a member of the National Honor Society and the Maverick Spirit Crue. Upon graduation, Ian plans to study biology or pre-medicine in college with hopes of becoming a physician’s assistant.

Two alternate delegates were also selected: Marissa Gerber, of Pocatello, who attends Century High School; and Ryan Kinville, of Rexburg, who attends Madison Senior High School.

According to the program organizers, “In addition to outstanding leadership abilities and a strong commitment to volunteer work, the student delegates rank academically in the top one percent of their states among high school juniors and seniors. Now more than 5,500 strong, alumni of the program continue to excel and develop impressive qualities that are often directed toward public service.” Program organizers also explain that students participating in the program have the opportunity to attend meetings and briefings with senators and congressional staff, the President, a Justice of the Supreme Court, leaders of cabinet agencies, an Ambassador to the United States and top members of the national media. They also have the opportunity to visit national monuments and museums. The USSYP also provides each delegate with an undergraduate college scholarship. No government funds are utilized for the program.

Today’s young leaders provide valuable perspective as they approach complicated, national issues with new thoughts and ideas. Congratulations to Idaho’s U.S. Senate Youth Program delegates on their selection, and thank you to all of Idaho’s youth who are working hard to learn more about civic engagement as they enhance their interest in public service and leadership.

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