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Missouri FCCLA Legislative Shadowing Program '09

Yesterday (2/25/09) was quite the day in Jefferson City, MO! Approximately 60 junior and senior high school students and 10 college students (majoring in family and consumer sciences education) participated in the Missouri FCCLA Legislative Shadowing Program. This annual event pairs students with legislators and has the following program goals:

  1. Increase FCCLA member awareness of state government and the political process.

  2. Interpret the duties of elected officials or policy makers.

  3. Develop awareness of current issues, especially those relating to families.

  4. Explore career options within public service.

  5. Educate local chapters, school, and/or communities about the impact of the shadowing experience.

The event began on Tuesday night with a special orientation and keynote speech from Judge Mary Russell of the Missouri Supreme Court. Judge Russell is only the third woman to serve on the Missouri Supreme Court. She spoke to the students about remaining life-long learners as well as having kindness being an integrated part of each of their lives. Students and adults alike were motivated by her message.

On Wednesday, students arose early and headed to the state capitol building, where they met their assigned Representative or Senator. Three students also had the opportunity to shadow staff in the offices of the Governor, State Treasurer, and Secretary of State. It was very exciting to attend the opening of the House of Representatives session and hear so many of the students being introduced to the Assembly. Equally exciting was watching these students, in their professional business attire, walking along with their representative or senator as they moved along to hearings, committee meetings, and other official duties throughout the day.

A highlight for the staff is always the "debriefing" activity at the end of the shadowing experience. Student volunteered to share their experiences throughout the day. They indicated they did attend many different events, learned exactly how much information is discussed throughout a day, and also how varied the topics can be. Several students also indicated they were considering a potential career in law, government, or even as an elected official. It would not surprise me one bit to see them succeed in these goals!

Thank you to Marcia Ritter, the coordinator of the program, for all of her work and dedication to civic education and leadership. We sincerely appreciate the opportunities you have provided to our Missouri FCCLA members so they can put their family, career, and community leadership skills to work in the public policy arena.

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