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Encouraging Idaho Youth Leadership

Guest column submitted by U.S. Senator Mike Crapo

Young leaders hold great promise for the future of our country.  They are tomorrow's innovators and problem solvers, and encouraging them to become engaged citizens can bring lasting solutions to our nation's most complicated issues.  The U.S. Senate Youth Program (USSYP) is once again providing an opportunity for Idaho students to develop their leadership skills.

The U.S. Senate established the USSYP 54 years ago.  The program's creators recognized the future leadership potential of students elected to student body offices in high schools across the U.S. and that they should be encouraged to deepen their interest in and understanding of their 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.  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 to the 54th annual USSYP that will be held March 5-12, 2016, in Washington, D.C. 

This year, Ashlynn Hall of Twin Falls and Mark Jerome of Boise were chosen from students across Idaho to be part of the student delegation who will attend the program's annual Washington Week.  Ashlynn Hall currently attends Canyon Ridge High School where she is the student body publicist and is involved in show choir, Business Professionals of America and the National Honor Society.  She is also a recipient of the Bronze Congressional Award and currently serves as Magic Valley's Distinguished Young Woman.  Upon graduation, Ashlynn plans to attend Brigham Young University where she will study communication disorders and later, plans to pursue an advanced degree in occupational therapy.

Mark Jerome attends Borah High School where he is Student Body President, a member of the National Honor Society and participant on both the football and basketball teams.  Additionally, Mark has been awarded the Borah Senator's Choice Award, was recognized as sophomore of the year and has received ALL-SIC Academic Honors on numerous occasions.  In 2015, Mark was the Gem Boys State Governor.  Upon graduation, he plans to attend college and major in business and minor in political science, focusing on a career in the business field.

During their week in the nation's capital, Ashlynn and Mark will 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 will also tour many of the national monuments and several museums renowned to the District.  The USSYP also provides each delegate with an undergraduate college scholarship.  No government funds are utilized for the program. 

Two alternate delegates have also been selected.  They are Olivia Ott, of Ketchum, who attends Community School, and Jonathan Pulsipher, of Rexburg, who attends Madison Senior High School.

Idaho is brimming with promising young leaders, and this program provides one of many opportunities that enhance interest in public service among future leaders.  I congratulate this year's delegates on their selection and commend Idaho's youth working toward a sound future for our communities, state and nation.    

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