The Laramie Youth Council is preparing to finalize its projects for the year after holding its second annual pitch day Sept. 26.
During the event, anyone was invited to pitch an idea in need of youth-driven solutions to the Youth Council as they sat on the council dais in Council Chambers.
During the first-ever pitch day last year, the council heard presentations making a recycling public service announcement and even lobbying a bill to the state legislature. While last year most of the pitches came from city staff or other public officials, this year looked much different.
“This year almost all of ours were from youth council members or collaborations between youth council members and the city council,” said 11th-grader Leila Johnson, a Youth Council member.
Pitches made by Youth Council members included senior Owen Reese’s pitch with Councilman Brian Harrington to lobby for the city to institute a fee for using plastic bags, and Vice Chair Sam Miller and Chair Aru Nair presented their idea to place solar panels at Laramie High School. Additionally, freshman Ava Bohlender presented a pitch about fighting food insecurity in Albany County.
“I want to make a difference in that,” Bohlender told the Laramie Boomerang. “I tried to do something with that last year … but there’s not a whole lot you can do in middle school. To do something in this kind of program, something that can make a difference, is really huge.”
Other pitches this year include the chance for members to present about the Youth Council to cities statewide at the summer 2020 Wyoming Association of Municipalities conference in Laramie, as well as a City Hall for All campaign to brainstorm ways to make city administrative buildings more welcoming.
Ruby Novogrodsky, a youth council member, said the goal again this year “is definitely finding real issues that need a youth voice.” During its meeting Thursday, the Youth Council discussed and considered each pitch’s pros, cons, timeline and feasibility, weighing how much time and funding each project will take with the impact it will have.
“I think now especially because we have a better organizational system, we’re starting off earlier, we have more people who are more dedicated — I think we’re able to take on more this year,” Novogrodsky said.
Many of the pitches would involve lobbying again, both at a state and local level. Lobbying is something many members expressed interest in during the discussion Thursday.
The council will decide which of the five pitches it has chosen by October 11. Once the projects are chosen, each will have a Youth Council member as a project manager.