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U.S. National Debt:

Developing Leadership Among Idaho Youth

Guest column submitted by U.S. Senator Mike Crapo

In 1962, the U.S. Senate passed a resolution to establish the U.S. Senate Youth Program (USSYP).  The program creators recognized the important role of talented youth who understand our nation's governmental functions in strengthening our country.   USSYP is a nationwide competitive high school program that provides students from each state with a short indoctrination into the operation of the U.S. Senate and the federal government.  This program is one of many opportunities that enhance interest in public service among future leaders.

The founders of the USSYP recognized that a "potential reservoir of young citizens who are experiencing their first responsibilities of service to a constituency and who should be encouraged to deepen their interest in and understanding of their country's political process" exists among students elected to student body offices in high schools across the U.S.  To advance this interest and understanding, the USSYP provides an opportunity for 104 delegates to travel to Washington, D.C. to learn about our federal government and leadership.  The program was created to increase an understanding of the interrelationships of the three branches of government, the responsibilities of federal officials and the importance of decision making. 

Two high school students are selected via a competitive process to represent each state, the District of Columbia and the Department of Defense Education Activity at this week-long event in early March.  Since the program's establishment, 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.  Students who succeed in this program typically are high academic achievers and outstanding in their communities. 

This year, Taylor Adler of Sun Valley and Catherine Yenne of Nampa were chosen to attend the program's Washington Week.  Taylor attends The Community School and serves as president of the Sun Valley Youth Council and the Community School Green Team.  He has also been an Idaho Gem Boys State delegate, a Congressional Gold Medal award recipient and a Community School Ambassador.  Catherine Yenne serves as the Associated Student Body secretary/treasurer, French Club president and a member of the varsity soccer team at Vallivue High School.  She is also a member of the National Honor Society and an Idaho Syringa Girls State delegate.  Cami Nichols of Nampa and Amanda Solomon of Kimberly were chosen as alternates.  The USSYP also provides each delegate with an undergraduate college scholarship. 

Good ideas often come from bright minds viewing challenges through new eyes.  As we confront our national issues, ensuring our nation's youth have access to firsthand education opportunities can inspire lasting solutions to national challenges and develop knowledgeable leadership that can strengthen our nation. 

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