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Lehi youth leaders attend Congressional City Conference in D.C.

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More than 3,000 local leaders from across the nation gathered in Washington, D.C., at the National League of Cities Congressional City Conference earlier this month. The conference's purpose was to learn how to improve municipalities across the country, make connections, and help build a brighter future for our nation's cities, towns and villages.

The conference welcomed youth leaders from across the country to participate in the Youth Delegate program at the Congressional City Conference, providing a unique opportunity created for youth and by youth. Lehi City Youth Council members spent two days of youth-led learning focused on policy and advocacy.

Lehi City was well-represented at the Congressional City Conference with 10 Youth Council delegates, three Lehi City Staff members who served as chaperones, City Manager Jason Walker, Mayor Mark Johnson, and three City Council members. Walker, Mayor Johnson, and City Council members met with our state representatives. They attended the adult sessions at the conference.

The youth workshops offered a good understanding of what leadership entails for local and federal government officials. They allowed the youth council groups to be for or against a topic in government, and the youth participated in a mock peer city council and argued for their position on that topic. They were offered various opportunities to present their side of the argument.

“I think our youth council represented Lehi City so well,” said Melanie Busath, Special Event Coordinator for Lehi City, who attended the conference as a chaperone.

Busath felt the conference was beneficial for those who attended.

“I loved this trip so much! I think the main takeaway was the opportunity to work with other youth councils from all over the country, to see how diverse each community was, and to recognize how different concerns affect other youth councils that may not affect us in Lehi City. Being able to see firsthand those different viewpoints and beliefs from others their age, as well as the opportunity to experience the history of our country outside of the conference, was a unique opportunity for the Lehi youth,” said Busath.

Paige Albrecht, City Council member, represented Lehi City at the conference.

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“The most special memory I will take from having the Youth Council there with us was the visit to the U.S. Capitol. Our Utah congressional delegation kindly gave us all a VIP evening tour in which there were no crowds. We got to go out on the Speaker's Balcony at night with a tremendous and inspiring view of the Washington Monument all lit up under a crescent moon,” said Albrecht.

Those from Lehi were also admitted to the House Chamber, also known as the Hall of the House of Representatives, and spent time in the historic room.

“Later, while we were looking around the Rotunda, Kira Gardner, a Youth Council delegate, was overcome with emotion and could not stop weeping with gratitude for everyone who has built this country. The reverence and respect displayed by Lehi's youth in D.C. gives me hope for and confidence in the future,” said Albrecht.

Anthony Cook, Lehi Youth Council delegate and a student at Lehi High School, learned many important things from the trip to D.C. He felt that this was an opportunity to better understand the country and the world.

“The most important thing I learned is that building a city or a nation is not just the responsibility of the elected officials. It is up to all of us to be well-informed and involved in our communities,” said Cook. “We need to become educated, involve ourselves in communities, and make an effort to interact with our local and state government officials so we can figure out how to improve the places we live.”

Cook enjoyed visiting all the historical sites, but his favorite place was the Lincoln Memorial at the National Park.

“I was amazed by how large it was and how reverent it felt. It was incredible. I feel that President Lincoln was a great man, and I enjoyed experiencing a part of his legacy,” said Cook.

Cook also enjoyed the dinner that the Youth Council had with Mayor Johnson. They ate at the Old Ebbitt Grill.

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“We were all able to eat together and talk and learn from each other at dinner. I learned about the many things the mayor does for the city. I learned about his values and what is important to him,” said Cook. “This was a highlight of the trip, and I will always remember what I learned from the mayor.”

Cook also felt that the National Museum of African American History and Culture is a place that everyone should visit.

“I learned about biases and about this impactful part of history. It was so informational; it helped me to gain a different perspective,” said Cook.

Months of fundraising and saving earnings made this trip possible for Lehi's Youth Council.

“Some of the youth even jumped into icy cold water at the Polar Plunge in February to earn money,” said Albrecht.

“It was worth the work to earn and save money for the trip. I had a great time, and it was a wonderful learning opportunity. I feel that I better understand our world and that we are a more unified people than I had perceived,” said Cook.

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