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 Oct. 10, as members of State Sen. Sue Rezin’s Youth Advisory Council.
“The enthusiasm, knowledge, and engagement from the students on my Youth Advisory Council is incredibly refreshing,” Sen. Rezin said. “We’ll need positive, uplifting, and bright leaders, whether it’s in government, public policy, the classroom, everywhere. The students of this generation are our future leaders, and I can tell you the future looks bright after spending the day with these students. I hope my Youth Advisory Council taught them more about government and leadership, and reinforces their drive to achieve their dreams.”
Rezin hosted the all-day Youth Advisory Council in Morris, with students selected by their principals and teachers from Coal City High School, Gardner-South Wilmington High School, LaSalle-Peru Township High School, Morris Community High School, Newark Community High School, Ottawa Township High School, Putnam County High School, Seneca Township High School, Serena High School, and Wilmington High School. The students all expressed an interest in either working in government or public policy or learning more about the subjects.
Rezin spoke about her career, how Illinois government works, shared her experiences at the Statehouse, and explained how public policy can shape the student’s 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 Brandon Harris, a Social Media Consultant; Ragan Freitag, the Chief of Staff for the Will County Board; Cody Grandadam, President of Promier Products and Owner of Promier Plaza in Peru; and Tim Carnell, the Site Manager of the LyondellBasell Morris Complex. The panel shared stories of their experiences in the workforce, provided first-hand knowledge about public policy, leadership, and keys to success, and answered questions.
“I’ve always been big into government and big into history,” said Jake Dahl from LaSalle-Peru Township H.S. “My grandfather was former Senator Gary Dahl, and we’ve talked about it before. It has been great to learn more about politics, and what I can get into.”
“I have always been interested in politics for as long as I can remember,” said Miranda Nutter from Putnam County H.S. “It’s something I am very passionate about and interacting with my government is something I feel very strongly about.”
“I came to the Youth Advisory Council to learn more about Illinois politics and to learn about how it all works,” said Madison Bolte from Newark H.S. “I am also really interested in talking about issues that personally impact me and others around me.”
“It has been cool to learn about several different issues you don’t hear about in school and to be able to discuss them too,” said Claire Rink from Wilmington H.S.
“This seemed like a good opportunity to learn more about state government and issues impacting our state,” said Leo Volker from Ottawa H.S.
“I have participated in the Youth Advisory Council for several years now, and it has been a lot of fun,” said Ryleigh Christensen from Coal City H.S. “I feel like I have gained a better understanding of the political world and where I stand as someone who wants to get into politics and where I stand on different policies.”
Rezin started her Youth Advisory Council in the spring of 2016.