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. 27, as part of State Sen. Sue Rezin’s Youth Advisory Council.
“It’s incredibly uplifting to see so many young people engaged in public policy and enthusiastic about potentially dedicating their careers to it,” Rezin said. “Whether it’s on the local, state, or national level, we need good leaders. I hope this Youth Advisory Council reinforced their interest in this field, taught them about the importance of public policy, or demonstrated how to be an effective leader in any career they end up in.”
Rezin hosted the all-day Youth Advisory Council in Morris, with students selected by their principals and teachers from LaSalle-Peru Township High School, Morris Community High School, St. Bede Academy, Streator Township High School, Wilmington High School, Woodland High School, Putnam County 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 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, Sen. 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 State. Rep. David Welter (R-Morris), Tyler Diers, Director of Advocacy for the Illinois Chamber of Commerce, Cody Grandadam, President of Promier Products in Peru, and former University of St. Francis Head Basketball Coach Pat Sullivan. The panel shared stories of their experiences in the workforce and provided first-hand knowledge about public policy, leadership, and how to be successful.
“I learned a lot about the legislative process and the background stories of all the politicians is really interesting,” Breyer Kinzer of LaSalle-Peru H.S. said. “I’m interested in going into law and then government. So, I took this as an opportunity to make some connections and learn new things.”
“It was good to talk about issues with other students and see other points of views,” Luke Wamhoff of St. Bede Academy said.
“I learned it doesn’t matter where you come, you can do whatever you want if you put your mind to it,” Danny Black of Morris H.S. said. “Like with internships, if you can get one, it’s a great way to get your foot in the door and it can lead to great jobs.”
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 of 2016.