The Laramie Youth Council is heading into the 2018-2019 academic year with new leadership and ambitious goals, Laramie Youth Council advisor Sarah Reese said.
Previously led by former city staff member Sam Farstad, Reese assumed the advising position when Farstad accepted a position at the University of Wyoming.
“I am super excited,” Reese said. “I often substituted for (Farstad) when he couldn’t make one of the youth council meetings, and they are a great bunch of kids.”
The youth council was created in 2015 to increase youth awareness and involvement in local government, community service and relevant issues facing today’s teenagers, the city’s website states.
The extracurricular program currently consists of about seven members including Laramie High School student Arundathi Nair, who won second place in the western division of the C-Span Student Cam 2018 competition. The students typically meet once or twice a month at Laramie City Hall or the Laramie City Annex building, Reese said.
“They spend about half their time learning about state and local government,” she said. “And the other half is spent doing a service learning project.”
During the current academic year, the youth council was tasked with creating a peer survey, polling high school and university students about aspects of Laramie that could be improved to encourage more young people to stay in the community. The youth council presented its findings to the Laramie City Council on March 27. (Go to www.laramieboomerang.com to read the full story about the youth council’s report.)
“The program is not sponsored by the Albany County School District No. 1, so the students don’t get class credit,” Reese said. “But the school district does provide some financial support.”
Beginning with the 2018-2019 academic year, she said the students might participate in “pitch day” where organizations go to the youth council to pitch projects that could benefit from youth leadership. Another idea being tossed around the youth council meetings is a potential podcast exploring different facets of local government, Reese said.
“Neither is set in stone, but I think it could be an amazing year,” she added.
High school students age 14-19 can apply to become a member of the youth council by going to www.cityoflaramie.org/983/Laramie-Youth-Council, filling out an application and emailing it to firstname.lastname@example.org. The application period closes May 31, and applicants will be interviewed by members of the City Council before being accepted into the program, Reese said.
Councilor Joe Shumway said the program grants teenagers an opportunity to participate in local government and learn about the process of creating policies for a community.
“We ask them to report to us, and they have opinions on different issues, and they’re input is valued by the council,” Shumway said. “We listen and I think that makes a difference, because I think they are a demographic that has been ignored in the past. So, I think it’s an important initiative.”