by John Holler
For more than 25 years, a Tuesday in the spring has been devoted to Boy/Girl County Day at the Wright County Courthouse. It has annually been a day for the county to host high school juniors who have an interest in how government works, with the county board and several department heads giving tours and providing information of how Wright County’s government operates.
But, at the April 16 meeting of the Wright County Board of Commissioners, a short sentence on the consent agenda caught the commissioners by surprise – “Cancel Boy/Girl Day Scheduled for 4-16-19 Due to Lack of Participation.”
The commissioners were surprised that the event was cancelled as part of Tuesday’s board agenda because it has been going on for decades with several high schools being represented each year. Commissioner Charlie Borrell summed up the feelings of the board – both sadness and surprise.
“I just want to say that it’s sad that they couldn’t get people to come to Boy/Girl County Day,” Borrell said. “I think those kids really got a lot out it. I don’t know if the schools didn’t see the value in or what. Hopefully, they can bring it back next year.”
At a time when young people are inundated with the polarizing opposites of politics, the county staff had hoped to show that local government operates cooperatively without any political affiliation. Boy/Girl County Day has been an opportunity to showcase many county departments and show how each plays its role in keeping county government operating on a day-to-day basis.
Many times, students who have an interest in politics or public service have used the county day event as a way of getting a hand’s on look at how government functions, including Board Chair Darek Vetsch, who was a high school student who sat in the county board room more than 20 years ago and said he got a lot out of the experience and hopes that the lack of participation in 2019 won’t bring an end to the program, which has typically been fun for the students and the county department heads that host them.
“As a person that over 20-plus years ago attended a Boy/Girl County Day, I am deeply saddened,” Vetsch said. “Hopefully, this isn’t going to be a trend. I think it’s more important now than ever that we get young people interested in county and local government as well as state and federal government.”
John Holler covers government and the Wright County Board of Commissioners.