Youth learn legislative process during trip to Pierre | TSLN.com

Youth learn legislative process during trip to Pierre

When you're 14 politics can be confusing. South Dakota's Legislature is now less complicated for the 14 teens who earned their way to attend the Farmers Union Two Year Legislative Award Trip, Jan. 21-23.

"I've toured the state Capitol before, but this is the first trip where I actually learned how the Senate and Legislature work," says Tess Heidenreich, 15, who lives on a farm near Faulkton with her family who raises Limousin cattle.

Like many youth who become involved in Farmers Union Youth Programs, Heidenreich was introduced through district day camps when she was 11. She became more involved because she enjoyed the programming and valued the friends she has made from across the state.

"It gives us an extra connection – the fact that most of us come from farms or ranches – we can talk farming. Which, even though I come from a small town, not a lot of kids in my class are from farms; so it's nice to talk to friends who understand it," Heidenreich says.

Along with teaching youth about how their state's government works, the Legislative Youth Trip is designed as one of four reward trips youth can earn throughout their high school years, explains Bonnie Geyer, Education Director.

"Within the youth program there are five levels of achievement. Students earn their way to each level through community service projects, essays, and participation in Farmers Union events," Geyer says.

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The reward trips coincide with the Farmers Union mission and triangle – Cooperation, Legislation and Education. Their first year youth can attend State Leadership Camp at half price, the second year is the Pierre Legislative trip, the third year is a trip to Minneapolis to learn about Cooperatives, fourth year students can earn a trip to the National Farmers Union Camp in Colorado. The fifth year is their Torchbearer award, the highest honor bestowed upon youth in Farmers Union, then they earn a trip to the National Farmers Union Convention.

"These trips offer incentive as well as valuable opportunities for students," Geyer says.

Haley Bialas, 14 and Reece Schulte, 16 would agree. Both teens got involved in Farmers Union Youth Programs through their District Day Camp and have eagerly increased their participation.

To learn more about Farmers Union Youth Programs, contact Geyer at 605-352-6761 ext. 125. F

–S.D. Farmers Union

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