Every year, during the General Assembly session, scores of students make their way to the Capitol to see firsthand their government at work. Career and Technical Education (CTE) students, representing the state’s Career and Technical Student Organizations (CTSO), are a part of that influx as they participate in the annual Student Leadership Day (SLD) presented by the Kentucky Association of Career and Technical Education (KACTE.)
The event is designed to encourage these future leaders to be responsible citizens as they participate in a two-hour legislative awareness program which features presentations by Kentucky legislators along with education and policy leaders. But, perhaps the most interesting part of the day includes visits to state officials to visit with their respective lawmakers.
She told committee members the state’s CTSO’s, which have a membership of 46,448 members, are helping Kentucky and the nation address key challenges in workforce development, student achievement, economic vitality and global competitiveness.
“I have had the opportunity to experience all that CTE has to offer. Some of the skills I have gained through DECA are leadership, team work and communication skills,” she said. “These are equally valuable now and in my future.”
Matt Chaliff, Interim Division Director for College and Career Readiness at the Kentucky Department of Education oversees the state’s seven CTSO’s. He said while students organizations have been a part of CTE for many years, those who have never participated in a student organization, may not realize the value of membership or the opportunities available through CTSO participation.
“The CTSO actually becomes an extension of the classroom offering the chance for students to practice what they have learned. In addition to technical skills, CTSO members also have the chance to learn and practice leadership skills in a hands-on setting. For many of our students, the first time they speak in public, work as part of a team, or plan an event is through their CTSO involvement,” said Chaliff. “Each year, thousands of shy, apprehensive freshmen enter our student organizations. Four years later they leave us prepared to be leaders in their professions and communities for decades to come.”
Chaliff credits these transformations to the support found through CTSO involvement.
Bryan Alvey, KFB Director of Local Affairs and Policy Development has participated in the SLD activities for several years. Each year, he discusses the governmental process and the importance of a solid relationship between citizens and their elected officials.
“The first thing I tell students is, the word lobbyist may have a negative connotation to some people, but what we do is vital to the system,” he said. “Not only do we get the message of our respective organizations to lawmakers and how it affects their constituents, but we are able to give them valuable detailed information about specific pieces of legislation at a time when they have several bills to review.”
Alvey added that he tries to explain the process of how bills are brought through the General Assembly and how important it is for these young people to be involved in that process.
“I know, from my personal experience, these students are making a positive impact on our government officials when they make their way to the capital each year to have their voices heard,” he said.
More than 300 students were expected to make their way to Frankfort for this year’s activities.