SHICKLEY, NE – Nebraska Senators Deb Fischer and Ben Sasse recently announced the names of two Nebraska high school students who were selected as delegates to the 57th annual United States Senate Youth Program (USSYP), which will be held March 2-9 in Washington, D.C.
Caleb Hendrickson of Shickley Public School and Audrey Worthing of Arthur County Schools were chosen to be part of the group of 104 student delegates who will attend the program in Washington.
“It’s crazy that we’re both coming from rural areas,” Hendrickson said. “I expected it to be a metro area thing, so I kind of went in just hoping.”
The program is designed to increase young Americans’ understanding of the interrelationships of the three branches of government, teach the responsibilities of federally elected and appointed officials, and emphasize the vital importance of democratic decision-making – both nationally and internationally.
The USSYP was created by Senate Resolution 324 in 1962 and has been sponsored by the Senate and fully funded by The Hearst Foundations since the beginning.
“I’m really excited,” Hendrickson said. “It’s going to be an opportunity to see how government works, so I’m just really excited for the opportunity.”
In addition to the program week, The Hearst Foundations provide each student with a $10,000 undergraduate college scholarship.
Hendrickson is a natural leader, according to his teachers. He’s the Vice President of the Shickley Student Council and headed a committee responsible for starting a school golf program after making a presentation to the district’s school board.
“One of (Caleb’s) strongest skills is his public speaking ability,” Shickley FFA advisor Kristin Witte said, “and his way with words. To be able to communicate his thoughts, and to get people to believe in what’s he’s believing in.”
Hendrickson is also the President of his local FFA chapter and was selected for Boys State and Boys Nations in Washington D.C. where he was appointed FFA Secretary of Agriculture. Hendrickson has also held offices in FBLA and his school’s speech team.
Like Hendrickson, Audrey Worthing is highly involved in her school and community. In addition to holding leadership positions in FCCLA and FFA, she has active roles in her school’s cross-country team and yearbook.
Worthing is also a member of the school band’s leadership team and works with junior high clarinet players to develop skills needed to join high school band.
Worthing is a member of the National Honor Society and volunteers at community blood drives and the annual Buffalo Stampede Days and Arthur Community Days.
She was also a member of the speech team and made state in two events, ultimately qualifying for national competition.
In her spare time, Worthing has taken part in Girls State Choir and is a member of Concordia University’s National Honor Choir.
The chief educational officer in each state selects the delegates after nomination by teachers and principals. This year’s delegates were selected by Commissioner of Education, Dr. Matthew L. Blomstedt.
While in D.C., the student delegates will attend meetings and briefings with senators, U.S. Representatives, Congressional staff, the president, a justice of the Supreme Court, leaders of cabinet agencies, an ambassador to the U.S., and senior members of the national media.
The students will also tour many of the national monuments and several museums. They’ll also stay at the historic Mayflower Hotel.
Hendrickson looks to major in political science with a minor in ag policy. He also, one day, hopes to get his law degree. This March trip to D.C. will be his third time visiting the nation’s capital.
The Youth Senate Program, along with the early leadership experience, are two things Hendrickson hopes he can use to kickstart a political career of his own someday.
“Not right away, but I think it’s something I want to come back to do,” Hendrickson said. “I think I could serve the people of Nebraska well someday, and I hope to do that.”
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