Encouraging area youths to learn about government

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

The Missouri Municipal League, an organization composed of most of the cities in Missouri, has declared the week of April 30 to May 4 as Local Government Week.

During this week, each community can highlight the various services delivered to the citizens of that community. Because it is so vital to keep citizens informed about what is happening, I am serious about my responsibility for writing this article and my weekly column in the Cash-Book Journal.

Another way to disseminate information about the city is to visit the schools and host tours of city hall for elementary classes and other youth groups.

While every city department is most cooperative in hosting tours and giving programs, our fire department and police department are called upon most often for this task. As part of this effort, employees from these departments and I will visit two classes at North Elementary one day, and several classes from South Elementary will come to city hall to visit with me and also have a demonstration by officer Ryan Medlin and Stryker, our K-9 drug dog.

The city is also working with our local Optimist clubs on two major projects that involve older students. During Respect for Law Week, sixth-graders write an essay on "Respect for Law." These are judged and one sixth-grader from each class at Immaculate Conception, St. Paul Lutheran, and the Jackson middle schools are selected to ride along for the day with a law enforcement officer.

On Wednesday, the Optimist Clubs of Jackson and Cape Girardeau are sponsoring Youth in Government Day. This program gives selected high school students an opportunity to "shadow" city of Jackson, city of Cape Girardeau and Cape Girardeau County staff and elected officials. Members of the board of aldermen, city staff and I will each spend a few hours interacting with the students so they learn more about the function of city government. We then return to the council chambers for a mock board of aldermen meeting conducted by the students. This meeting gives all in attendance an opportunity to understand how the input from staff and the cooperation of the board and the staff is essential to keeping the city running smoothly.

On Thursday, the city will receive an award from the Missouri Department of Conservation and Department of Natural Resources for completing the Children in Nature Challenge. The challenge criteria are developed by Department of Conservation to encourage children to spend more time outside observing and learning about nature.

Meeting the challenge was a cooperative effort by our local conservation center, the local schools, our parks department, and the Jackson Community Outreach Board.

The Planet Hubble Creek program is a part of the challenge. Students from all our elementary schools will be a part of the program that takes place in the city park Thursday. It is during the program that we will receive the award. Since this is one of the favorite projects of Mrs. Jay Nixon, Missouri's First Lady, we hope she can also be here for the presentation by the Missouri Department of Conservation.

Barbara Lohr is the mayor of Jackson.

Respond to this story

Posting a comment requires free registration: