Students are clearing out their lockers and signing yearbooks as teachers grade final exams and close the classroom door for the final time this school year. While their attention is turning to summer, my staff is already preparing for fall and getting ready for our next Congressional Youth Cabinet (CYC).
This program is an initiative to help inspire a passion for public service among Arkansas youth and involve the next generation in the legislative process including crafting legislation to support immediate and future needs within our state and nationally. Launched in 2017, we’ve welcomed high school juniors from all across The Natural State to the program to encourage civic engagement and develop an interest in public service.
I’m grateful for the time CYC members have invested in representing their communities and discussing some of the challenges facing our nation as well as their solutions to ensure we are always doing our best to serve Americans’ best interests.
As part of the nonpartisan program, students meet throughout the school year with me and my staff to learn about the legislative process and collaborate with each other to develop their own solutions and proposals to tackle an issue they choose, culminating in an opportunity to share their recommendations in an end-of-the-year presentation.
I was impressed with this year’s proposals and their legislative ideas. It was clear from the analyses that they chose topics important to them, which led to fresh ideas and thoughtful discussions. I always appreciate getting to see these issues through their eyes and hear about the issues most concerning to young citizens like them.
People often ask me what the criteria is for students to participate. The perhaps unexpected answer is there is no checklist of achievements to be eligible. Instead, our goal is to bring together a diverse group of students with a variety of backgrounds and interests from across Arkansas who are committed to working hard and are enthusiastic about public service. For example, some of this year’s cabinet members are heavily involved in student government, academic competitions or volunteer organizations in their school or community. Some were committed to sports or church activities that show their dedication while others are respected by those around them for how they balance their time between school and work.
The bottom line is they are committed to what they do, love to learn and care about making a difference.
We’re accepting applications for the 2023-2024 school year CYC. Students who will be high school juniors this fall are invited to apply before September 1. The application can be found on my website (boozman.senate.gov).
This program demonstrates the importance of being an active citizen and provides an opportunity to learn how public policy is crafted so that these young people can apply their knowledge and spread it throughout their communities, to the benefit of other Arkansans and our country.
CYC members are leaders of tomorrow. I am grateful for the time they dedicate to it and I am hopeful they each continue to find ways to make their voices heard on issues important to them, their families, neighbors and peers.