Irene Mason was recently named Beta Sigma Phi’s Woman of the Year, in part because of her work with the Youth Advisory Council that she began three years ago, which mirrors the Muleshoe city council. I attended their last meeting of the year Monday to see how the youth council works.
But first, some background. Irene, who is active state-wide in city government associations, saw some youth councils in other cities and decided Muleshoe could benefit from one as well. But with a difference. What she saw were youth councils that were basically service organizations, something more akin to our SCAC (Student Community Action Club), who have projects throughout the year. What she envisioned was an actual youth version of city council, providing the kids with the opportunity to really learn about how city government works.
The council is composed of nine high school students who go through an interview process to be a member. The current council members address the eight grade class near the end of the school year and tell them what the council is all about. The kids who are interested sign up and then go through an interview conducted by Irene, city manager David Brunson, and city secretary LeAnn Gallman. The experience of being interviewed is a life skill that they can benefit from later on as well. Once they are accepted, they have the option to remain on the council for the duration of their high school careers. Irene, with input from LeAnn Gallman, and David Brunson, match each student with a city council position. The students then carry out the duties of that position in their meetings and even shadow their counterparts outside the council meetings to learn more about what that person deals with in relation to city government. This year’s assignments were: Mayor Stephanie Infante; Mayor Pro Tem Kayla Preston; Council members Marissa Hernandez, Katie Lovell, and McKenna Dunham; City Manager Garrison Myers; City Secretary Allegra Mora; Police Chief Grey Johnson; and Public Works Director Blayne Shipman.
Pictured with Irene Mason are YAC members Kalie Lovell, Garrison Myers, Kayla Preston, Grey Johnson, Marissa Hernandez, Blayne Shipman, and Stephanie Infante. Not pictured are Mckenna Dunham and Allegra Mora.