Four hundred thirty-seven high school students and chaperons from around the state attended the 24th Missouri Farm Bureau Youth Leadership Day April 12. They met with legislators at the State Capitol and participated in an afternoon session at the MOFB Center. Youth Leadership Day is sponsored by the MOFB Promotion and Education Program.
To start off the day, students were bused to the Capitol where they visited with legislators to learn about the progress on bills that affect agriculture and rural Missourians. Although the House was not in session, students were able to meet with some state representatives and tour the building. The Senate, however, was in session and several groups were introduced on the Senate floor. Many students met with their senators in their offices and side chambers.
After lunch at the MOFB Center, the group was welcomed by Missouri Farm Bureau President Blake Hurst. Farm Bureau Ambassadors Jacqueline Janorschke, St. Joseph, and Charlie Ebbesmeyer, Armstrong, talked about their experiences in the ambassador program.
The featured speaker was Missouri Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft, who talked about the importance of elections. “Our government is designed to be a government by the people for the people,” he said. “Every election matters. An election turnout of 10 or 11 percent is horrible. We need you. We need your voice.”
Ashcroft told students increasing voter participation begins with awareness that elections are important. “A larger percentage of our population says ‘It doesn’t matter’ and don’t vote. It does matter.” But he reminded them not to rely completely on mass and social media, but to be active as individuals. “Shake hands with those running for office, learn about them. We need you to be consequential, to be active. Not because someone tells you to do something, but because you want to do it and make things better.”
Students attending from Scotland County included Khloe Hamlin, Nova Cline, Abby Blessing, Jared Dunn, Katelyn Talbert, Hunter Frederick. They were accompanied by Vocational Agriculture Teacher Waltedda Blessing.