Students can experience state government first hand
By Sen. Luther Olsen
The Wisconsin Senate offers a unique opportunity to high school students who are interested in state government.
Every year, the state Senate welcomes 33 high school students to the State Capitol for a week to learn about how the Legislature operates. Students have the opportunity to learn from legislators, staffers and lobbyists about the work they do and how they accomplish their goals.
Students in this program learn about bill drafting, press relations and constituent services. Previous attendees have commented on how the program renewed their passion for government and that it was the most thorough, in-depth and well-organized program they had attended.
The Senate Scholar Program is open to high school students between the ages of 16 and 18 and is also open to home-schooled students. Applicants must have strong academic credentials, with at least a B average, and obtain a nomination from their local state senator. Successful candidates will have participated in activities that demonstrate a high degree of responsibility.
The fee for attending the 2016 Senate Scholar Program is $250. This fee includes the cost of lodging, lunches, and dinners. The 2016 program will take place over three weeks: Feb. 7-12, Feb. 14-19, and March 6-11.
Senate Scholars attend floor debates, committee hearings and seminars with members of the press, lobbyists, senate staffers and professors from the Robert M. LaFollette School of Public Affairs. Students will have an opportunity to learn about careers in public policy at a critical time when they are preparing for their academic future.
In addition to observing actual legislative activities the Senate Scholars will participate in mock bill drafting, policy analysis, constituent communications and lobbying. This hands-on experience augments social studies, government and civics classes they have taken in high school by giving them a true sense of how the legislature works.
Senate Scholars stay at the Concourse Hotel in downtown Madison. The hotel is directly across the street from the State Capitol. Cost of the hotel is included in the tuition price. In addition to their experiences at the Capitol, the program includes entertainment like movies, trips to the UW-Madison Union South, sports or cultural events and dining at local restaurants.
To apply for the program, students should submit a resume, complete an application and get letters of support. Students must obtain a nomination letter from their state senator to complete the application process.
To ensure that my office has sufficient time to process requests for nomination letters, please contact me by Wednesday, Dec. 23, 2015. Completed applications are due Jan. 3, 2016.
Applicants will be notified of their acceptance on or shortly after Jan. 15, 2016. A complete application packet can be found at http://legis.wisconsin.gov/senate/scc/ssp/apply.asp.