By Governor Dave Heineman
I want to highlight a great tradition that takes place each year in June in our capital city as hundreds of our state’s most distinguished young leaders meet on the University of Nebraska-Lincoln campus for an exercise in democracy.
The annual meeting of Cornhusker Boys State and Cornhusker Girls State were held this week. These programs are sponsored by The American Legion to provide young leaders with the first hand experience of forming and governing in a democracy.
Each year high school juniors from across the state come together and spend a week as citizens of the mythical Boys State and Girls State living in towns, electing leaders in local, county and state elections, and governing according to Nebraska law.
The positions and appointments mirror those of state government with constitutional officers and senators elected through primary and general elections, and Supreme Court positions appointed by the sitting Governor of Boys or Girls State. The experience provides a first-hand look at the political process of our democracy, with campaigns, platforms, debates, and elections that are an exercise in consensus building and problem solving.
Whether participants go on to pursue a career in politics, public service or another career path, the experience is an opportunity to learn about the political processes of our state and nation. Students also have the opportunity to interact with state leaders. Over the years, members of my staff, and leaders from the Nebraska Legislature and Nebraska Supreme Court have spent time meeting with participants and sharing their insights on how government works in Nebraska.
It is a longstanding tradition that the Governor addresses the participants of Boys and Girls State. As a former participant in Boys State, I really enjoy the opportunity to interact with Nebraska’s best and brightest students. The students asked challenging questions about our state budget priorities; education, economic development and agriculture.
Students come away from this experience with a greater understanding and appreciation for the challenges of making policy decisions that affect our entire state. My message to this year’s participants was that we want them to be part of Nebraska’s future. They are Nebraska’s future leaders.
I want to thank The American Legion and the American Legion posts and auxiliary groups across the state for supporting the Cornhusker Boys and Girls State program. It is a valuable and memorable experience.