Sunday, November 2, 2008


My wife and I were guests tonight at the annual 4-H award banquet. As always, it was good to see the leaders and youth. It is always nice to see young people doing things well and being honored for their hard work. More on this later ...

One of the pleasures of being mayor is the chance to meet and interact with some of the best youth to be found. This year was especially nice in that sense because the local community college played host to the state FFA (Future Farmers of America) convention and they were kind enough to invite me to appear before the assembled group and welcome them.  It was a great experience. 2000 bright and eager high school youth who were polite, well spoken, and passionate. Young leaders who could work a crowd better than I could ever hope to. And they listened to an old fogey like me even though their kick off dance and mixer started shortly after I spoke. The hormones were at a fever pitch. I happened to sit on the convention floor and overhear a couple of young men beside me who were laying out their plan for which young ladies to ask to dance just before my speech. It was really fun to overhear, but I have no desire to be that young and agonized about the opposite sex again. Getting a rousing round of applause from 2000 screaming kids and a few hundred other adults (whether deserved or not) is as close as I'll ever get to being a rock star. Highly recommended if you get the chance.

I also sit on the committee of a local Boy Scout troop and my wife is on the state board for the Girl Scouts . In addition, we as a city council run a youth commission to get feedback and input from the youth of the community in a way that also exposes them to local government and how it works. We've been very fortunate to have some real leaders emerge from the youth commission. We hope they will return to roles in our community when their college days are over. There have been some that stand out and make you want to see their future because you know they will do great things.

In addition, we have started a program called "If I were Mayor ..." in cooperation with CML (Colorado Municipal League) . It is an essay contest for students in 5th grade who write an essay addressing how they would explain/do various things if they were mayor. Each year it is a different aspect of local government. I convene a panel of myself, the city manager, and community citizens to read the essays and select the top three. We give scholarship prizes to the top three winners and certificates signed by me with the city seal to all who enter. In addition, we forward all the entries to the CML state wide contest. The four state wide winners are given scholarship grants and invited to the CML annual meeting. They are recognized and honored at an awards luncheon at the meeting. We were lucky enough to have one of our students win the CML contest last year.

What makes this all come full circle is that some of the 4-H award winners tonight were participants in the "If I were Mayor ..." contest, some of the 4-H winners were youth commission members, and some of the 4-H winners were Scouts and FFA members. The one thing in common with all these events and groups is great kids working hard to reach their goals. They have fun and enjoy the journey, but they work hard and accomplish goals. They are taking steps, preparing for their future, and giving back to the community at the same time. It is so inspiring to talk to the youth and see their enthusiasm, pride, and giving spirits. A completely different picture from the group you see when you visit a prison.

(And as an aside, it is really fun to visit the elementary schools and read to the kids in the early grades. The Mayor is a mythical figure to them, so you have to work hard to live up to their expectations. Although it is a bit disconcerting when the first graders are much more excited by being read to by {*gasp*} a fireman or policeman.)

1 comment:

You know you want to ... so just do it!!!

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