Utah Governor Gary Herbert spoke to Boys State at Weber State University last week about the need for responsible leadership in politics the kinds of opportunities that can surprise one in life.
Boys State is a program that meets each year at WSU and is designed to instill knowledge of government into young men around the state. It has operated in 49 states since 1937 and is sponsored by the American Legion, the country’s largest veterans organization. The program often features speeches by prominent local politicians. Utah Governor Gary Herbert was again the speaker for this year’s Boys State, along with others like Representative Rob Bishop. Herbert gave a speech on Friday, speaking to the heart of what Boys State stands for.
“The question you’re going to have to ask yourself is are you going to be ready to take on responsible leadership in this state and this country and in your local communities and your business communities?” Herbert said. “And I’m here to give thanks to those who are helping you get prepared to be ready.”
Herbert spoke about former President Ronald Reagan, saying Reagan never had any expectation in his life of becoming president of the United States, and used this story to highlight the kinds of opportunities that can take people by surprise in their lives.
“You are the rising generation and you know that,” he said. “You probably have an understanding that you’re going to have opportunities in life that are going to be brought to you. And there is a need for preparation as you anticipate opportunities that you have before you.”
The activities at Boys State aim to prepare attendees for opportunities they might have in life and increase youth awareness about government and how it works. They might also inspire interest in politics in some who hadn’t any interest previously.
“At first I had absolutely no interest in politics, and now I understand how important it actually is,” said Austin Hatch, a Boys State county and state delegate.
Hatch, a student at Davis High School, was in attendance at Herbert’s speech, which he described as “well thought out and very heartfelt.”
Another Boys State county and state delegate, Jeremy White, who attends Juab High School, also lauded the governor’s speech.
“It was very insightful and very respectful,” he said, “and to me I thought it was a very well-done speech, and it covered a lot of topics that Boys State really represents. You could tell how he really had a passion for the country and what Boys State stands for.”
White said he got a lot of information from the Boys State program, as well as more passion and respect toward the country.
Along with participating in mock trials, elections and seminars with government officials, Boys State attendees also participate in music and sports. Awards for excelling in these activities go toward the whole cumulative point system. White was among those who won a medal for activities in the program. His medal was in athletics.
Herbert highlighted the importance of the military during his speech. White said he hoped to take what he got out of Boys State and apply it toward a possible future career in the military.
“I want to enlist, but I have a heart condition that may or may not stop me from doing so,” he said. “But I’m not sure. I hope so.”
Boys State offers students a variety of opportunities, including three university credit hours for attending the program, a chance to apply for scholarships, and a chance to go to Washington D.C. as a representative for the Utah’s Boys State program.