Students from across Illinois met with their legislative representatives during the Illinois Electric and Telephone Cooperatives Youth Day on Wednesday, March 25 in Springfield. More than 250 students from around Illinois had an opportunity to visit the State Capitol, view state government in action and question their legislators on key issues.
While touring the Capitol complex, students were invited into the office of Secretary of State Jesse White and given the chance to meet David Nance, an Abraham Lincoln Presenter.
During lunch, Lieutenant Governor Evelyn Sanguinetti addressed students and chaperones and challenged them to take an interest in the political process and encouraged them to talk to their state senators and representatives about issues that interest them. Wyatt Reid, the 2014-15 Illinois Youth Leadership Council Representative from Rock Energy Cooperative, spoke about his experiences on the Youth to Washington tour and challenged attendees to maintain an interest in their cooperatives and the political process. While in Springfield, the students also visited the Old State Capitol and Abraham Lincoln Presidential Museum.
Youth Day is designed to introduce young rural leaders to state government. There were 26 co-ops from across the state represented at the event.
Representative Jerry F. Costello, II (D-116th) was one of many leaders who talked to students. Speaking to Monroe County Electric Cooperative student representatives he said, “I think vocational education is an area we need to concentrate on more. Not every kid is going to go on to do a masters program, or go on to law school or med school. For me the two areas that we need to work on are protecting the elderly, people who can’t protect themselves, and then also education. The only way that we can come out of where we are at in this country and this state is helping to educate younger people. You are the future and what happens with you all, how prepared you are to be the next generation of leaders, that is the only way things change. So to think that we are going to cut education and change things in a positive way I think is backwards thinking.”