Seven Joppa High School students were invited by Sen. Dale Fowler (R-Harrisburg) to participate in his spring Youth Advisory Council meeting on March 15.

Cheyenne Lang, Aaliyah Latham, Mary Sparks, Hayden Forthman, Brody Greer, Gunner Johnson and Ava McNeill were chosen to participate.

Held virtually, the meeting provided students the opportunity to listen to speakers such as Jeff McGoy, director of the Exploratory Student Advisement Center for Learning Support Services at Southern Illinois University and public speaker; Dale Righter Illinois State Senate Republican Caucus chief of staff; Colleen Callahan, Illinois Department of Natural Resources director; and Fowler.

Students interacted with the speakers, asking questions about legislation and expressing concerns they see in their community. All speakers gave detailed information on their background growing up in southern Illinois, how they got to the positions that they hold and what they do in their positions. They gave contact information for students to reach out with additional questions and encouraged them to keep in touch. They all answered questions on their careers and pushed for students to go to attend local colleges and pursue careers similar to their own.

Fowler spoke about a variety of topics, including the resources students need to pursue a career/education in southern Illinois; how he can help students pursue their future goals; and the biggest challenges students are experiencing in terms of pursuing higher education or a career in Illinois. Fowler spoke about these subjects in detail with students making sure to address their questions and concerns, encouraging them to give back to their community. He reminded them of the beauty of southern Illinois and spoke on his personal experiences growing up here.

This was Fowler’s fifth Youth Advisory Council meeting. While meetings are typically held in the capitol building, this year’s fall and spring meetings have been held virtually due to COVID. Fowler is hopeful the fall 2021 meeting will be in person, and Joppa will get to nominate students once again.

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