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Government process program looking for future leaders

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Kenneth Hart of Artesia is looking for future government leaders to participate in the Boys State program. Sponsored by the American Legion, it will take place later this year in Portales. (Submitted Photo)

Copyright © 2021 Roswell Daily Record

ARTESIA – Did you know that Nick Saban, Hines Ward and Tom Brokaw have something in common?

All three are listed as prominent graduates of the American Legion Boys State program and right now Kenneth Hart of Artesia serves as the president of the board of directors for New Mexico.

Hart said Boys State has been active in New Mexico for decades. In the past he said over 300 boys were involved in the program. Last year, he said 88 were involved.

Hart is looking to get more boys in the program, which will take place later this year at Eastern New Mexico University in Portales.

He said the American Legion Auxiliary sponsors Girls State which is a mirror program of Boys State.

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“The goals are the same, but the program is completely different,” he said.

He said Girls State will take place after Boys State and it is also held in Portales.

Hart said boys from across New Mexico gather in Portales to learn more about the government process.

“It’s a non-partisan program with fictious cities and fictious parties with no real platforms,” he said.

Hart added that the cities are grouped into counties, “and right from the get-go we’re putting them into government.”

He said the participants get a crash course on the inner-workings of government.

“And right off the bat they start campaigning and start building government,” he said.

“The entire program is a mock government situation that lasts a week long and as the program progresses we move them from city government to county and state government and we try to encompass as many of the facets of the government that we can,” Hart added.

Hart said they also explore schools boards, regulatory agecnies and others that are appointed by the governor.

“One of the things we try to do is get everybody involved so that the cities are asking for grants from the state, the state is dealing with issues that come to it and the county is trying to do things in the county and they have to deal with city land, so there is really this picture going on with government,” he said.

Hart said those who have participated in the program usually come back and serve as counselors and mentors to new participants.

He said that scholarships are usually given, “every boy who completes the program is awarded three credits in political science from ENMU. When you consider tuition and such, that’s probably something like a $500 value right there. So in essence everybody walks out with $500 worth of education.”

Hart was asked how many kids particiapte from Southeast New Mexico.

“Our numbers kind of vary,” he said. “I’ve seen from Carlsbad as many as three or four here recently. Unfortunately I haven’t seen anyone from Artesia since I’ve been with the program. Roswell, we generally see a few more, in the neighborhood of about ten.”

He added that kids from Loving, Hobbs and Dexter have also participated.

“Obviously I’d like to see more from everywhere,” he said.

Hart said more information maybe obtained at nmboysstate.org or you can reach him at 575-513-4105. Hart also commands American Legion Post No. 7 in Carlsbad.

“Boys State is the best summer program out there in my opinion. It’s a great resume builder, it’s a great experience and opportunity to learn public speaking and general leadership, attendees of Boys State come out of the program more informed and better prepared for life, in my opinion,” Hart said.

General assignment reporter Mike Smith can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 307, or at sports2@rdrnews.com.

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