On October 15, State Sen. Dale Fowler (R-Harrisburg) welcomed dozens of high school students from across the 59th Senate District to his annual Youth Advisory Council, a unique, hands-on opportunity for area students to learn about and experience state government and public policy.
“A younger generation of future leaders is emerging, with students in high school and college finding their voice, formulating opinions and becoming active. Today is about encouraging that growth,” said Fowler. “When I look around this room today, I see such potential. These are individuals who have an interest in public policy, want to be engaged and are choosing to be involved. It’s refreshing and encouraging.”
Fowler hosted his all-day Youth Advisory Council at the Southeastern Illinois College in Harrisburg, bringing together students selected by their principals and teachers from Crab Orchard High School, Galatia High School, Goreville High School, Sesser Vailer High School, Zeigler Royalton High School, Harrisburg High School, Herrin High School, Pope County High School, Eldorado High School, Anna-Jonesboro High School, Carrier Mills High School, Vienna High School, Gallatin County High School, Marion High School, Cairo High School, Dongola High School, Frankfort Community High School, and Johnston City High School.
Senator Fowler invited local leaders in the community to speak to the students, including: Barry Hinson, the Men’s Basketball Coach at Southern Illinois University; Matt Lees, Chair of the Social Science Division and Professor of Political Science and Sociology at Southeastern Illinois College; Tom Harness, owner of Harness Digital Marketing; and John Okerson, Chapter Captain of Team RWB. The guest speakers gave the students insight about their careers and advice about leadership and achieving their goals. Sen. Fowler also spoke about his experience as an area businessman, state legislator and philanthropist in Southern Illinois.
Afterwards, students 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, Fowler spent time with each small group, asking students questions about their proposed policy change and how they would advocate for their issue.
In the spring, Sen. Fowler’s Youth Advisory Council will meet again in Springfield, continuing the discussion about the legislative process from the Capitol and giving the students the opportunity to participate in a mock committee hearing and hear from legislative leaders about their role in state government.