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On April 24, Linn County hosted approximately 50 area high school students for Future Leaders of Linn County. This one-day event during National County Government Month engaged high school students in the government process by providing a hands-on, comprehensive learning experience that culminated with six students serving on a mock Board of Supervisors along with Linn County Board of Supervisors Chair Stacey Walker.Students began their day by meeting Linn County elected officials and department heads and touring the Linn County Public Service Center. They attended the Linn County Board of Supervisors formal meeting and then participated in interactive breakout sessions with County staff.
During the interactive sessions, County staff presented the students with simulated County business, including a special use permit for a zoning issue, dam modification at a County park, and whether to fund a request for Peer Review Court by cutting funding from another area. The sessions engaged the students in critical thinking and demonstrated the wide-ranging issues and decisions involving county government and the impact those policy decisions have on residents and the community.
At the end of the program, students put into practice what they learned by participating in a mock Board of Supervisors meeting where six students served as members of a mock Board of Supervisors and voted on the issues discussed during their meetings with department heads and County staff. The mock student board unanimously authorized the dam modification and the Peer Review Court following a question and answer session with the presenters. The special use permit for a faith-based addiction recovery facility failed to pass the mock board with 4-3 vote.
“We hope that these experiences will help our best and brightest students from around the county better understand the role of government in their lives and the importance of public service,” said Linn County Supervisor Stacey Walker who has spearheaded this effort. “The larger goal is to motivate students with high potential to consider careers in public service. If we are to course-correct as a country, we must start now recruiting future leaders to key roles in government and the public sector. This is one small effort which may very well yield large scale change.”
What the students said about their experience:
“This is a good program which helps students like me to understand how Linn County works and the decisions and problems the county faces.”
- Jefferson student
“It was very interesting to learn about the different aspects of local government and to hear/discuss issues in Linn County.”
- Xavier student
“I liked seeing proposals of policy and ideas on a county level.”
- Prairie student
See a photo gallery from the day’s events.