Nebraska’s highly accessible legislative process uniquely primes Nebraska to empower young adults as civically engaged citizens. On February 11-13, 19 youth from the Governor’s Youth Advisory Council (GYAC) and the Connected Youth Initiative (CYI) gathered to learn about and engage in the legislative process at their annual Legislative Day. This youth-planned and youth-facilitated event aims to connect youth from diverse backgrounds around civic engagement and provide an opportunity for them to have a voice.
In a day and a half of preparation, youth heard presentations from Boys Town young adults, DHHS-CFS, Nebraska Appleseed, and the Coalition for a Strong Nebraska. Topics included the legislative process, voting, advocacy, and how to have solution-focused, nonconfrontational discussions about issues about which they are passionate. Amid all the skill development, youth discussed current legislation impacting young Nebraskans and selected four bills (LB298, LB487, LB411, and LB504) to capture in brief presentations. Members then practiced and finally relaxed with a bit of social time.
All their work culminated in a day at the Capitol that exposed youth to all three branches of government. Youth visited their senators’ offices and watched floor debate. They shared their bill presentations with senators over lunch and in a meeting with Governor Ricketts. New this year was a tour of the Nebraska Supreme Court with Supreme Court Justice Stephanie Stacy.
Youth left energized and full of ideas for their next steps and ways to make next year’s event even better. One youth reflected on the evaluation, “I thought this was a great experience. I loved it and I will be much more prepared for next time.” Since the event, youth have come together to write letters or testimony to continue their voices in Lincoln, Fremont, and North Platte.
Many thanks go out to all of the facilitators who made Legislative Day possible!