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EDITORIAL NOTE: This blog was written by our intern, Kelsey Greenagel
I am currently a college sophomore interning at the League of Women Voters’ national office in Washington, D.C. Many people in the office were surprised to learn that this is not my first time working with the League.
In high school, I was the co-president of my school’s League of Voters’ club, which was affiliated with the local League of Women Voters of Wheaton (IL). Our relationship with the local League was a two-way dialogue. A League representative attended all of our club meetings. Sometimes the students would put forth our own initiatives and the Wheaton League would help guide us in our endeavors. Other times, the League representative would ask our club to help them in their local pursuits.
Through our connection with the League, our club was able to work on some really interesting events including a League hosted candidate forum for our town’s mayoral election. League members, myself included, were able to help the League put on the forum. The students even got to participate by leading the Pledge of Allegiance and other introductory duties. The League also spearheaded a push to re-vamp and re-open a closed theater in the center of town to strengthen the economically depressed area. Club members worked fundraising events and helped campaign for a referendum that would finance the renovation of the theater.
I was also lucky enough to attend the League of Women Voters of Illinois’ meeting in Chicago in 2011 along with a few other club members and our local representative. League members from all across Illinois participated. We had the chance to listen to speakers cover an array of issues, including redistricting and Medicaid reform.
The League also supported our endeavor to line-up our local Congressman Peter Roskam to come and speak to our school. Students were able to participate in a substantial question and answer session with the Congressman. The League also aided us in the planning of our trip to the 2012 Iowa Caucus where we observed the unique voting process of a caucus, very different from the primaries to which we were accustomed.
I now realize that my high school club’s work with the League was rare. Other local Leagues should consider partnering with youth organizations. It has been very interesting for me to experience the entire spectrum of the League of Women Voters: the local, state and national level. All of the students now have a strong connection with the League of Women Voters, which they most likely would not have made had it not been for the League’s affiliation and involvement with our high school club.