Green River Star -

By Stephanie Thompson
People Editor 

Student enjoys political experience

 

August 8, 2018

Courtesy photo

Green River High School student Levi Hren poses for a photo with Governor Matthew Mead.

For one high school senior, playing a role in politics was an interest enhanced by a recent trip to Washington D.C.

The journey started when Levi Hren, a Green River High School student, applied as a junior for Boys State through the American Legion. He was happy to represent Green River in Douglas. Hren has an interest in the political process and what leads up to the primary and general elections. He's also had an interest in civic education and what one must do to become a leader.

During Boys State, mock city, county and state elections are hosted and at the end of the week, the students have the chance to meet Gov. Matthew Mead and visit Wyoming's Capitol.

According to the website http://www.wyoboysstate.org, Boys State is a chance for juniors across the state to participate in a week-long program to gain knowledge of their state and its governmental structure.

"Delegates learn first-hand how government works, experiencing what it takes to create and enact laws. The week emphasizes leadership, civic engagement and patriotism," the website states.

While at Boys State, the boys are placed into different cities. Hren was elected as a city councilman for his city. He was also the vice president of the Pioneer Party and the vice president of Senate.

"I got elected governor, which is the highest position in the state," Hren said.

At first, Hren was going to run for the Senate because he knew it would be tough becoming the governor, but then he decided to go for it. He had three other opponents and they all gave speeches.

"I got selected to be the candidate for the party," he said.

During a candidate debate against the other party's candidate, Hren said one question really stood out to him: "How would he address the 400 million education shortfall?" While his opponent said raise taxes, Hren said he wanted to see what kinds of federal grant funding wasn't being utilized by other states and go after it. He also said the state needed to diversify its economy so it wasn't always going through a boom-and-bust cycle and this would provide more stable funding for education.

He was then elected governor, but this didn't guarantee him a spot to go to Boys Nation in Washington D.C. Hren said it came down to who the Boys State attendees thought should represent them at Boys Nation and after a vote Hren and Zane Moore of Glenrock were selected to attend Boys Nation. 

 

Boys Nation

Boys Nation has two representatives from 49 states attend the event to learn about the structure and function of federal government.

According to the website http://www.legion.org/boysnation, "At the event, each delegate acts as a senator from his Boys State. The young lawmakers caucus at the beginning of the session, then organize into committees and conduct hearings on bills submitted by program delegates. Senators learn the proper method of handling bills, according to U.S. Senate rules. Participation in the political process is emphasized throughout the week, including organization of party conventions and nominating and electing a president and vice president."

For Hren, it was a chance to introduce a bill, which was based on genetic modification of humans. Even though his bill made it to the floor, it wasn't debated due to lack of time, which was also a great lesson for Hren to learn about the process.

The bills that were passed during the mock session were then sent to U.S. President Donald Trump for him to review. Hren saw this as an opportunity for the American youth to let President Trump know what ideas they had for the country and where they want the country to go.

"It was eye opening," Hren said. "It was an awesome experience."

When the delegate of Boys Nation weren't busy sifting through their numerous Senate bills, they were visiting with U.S. Senators. Hren met with Wyoming Senators John Barrasso and Mike Enzi. Hren was quite impressed with Sen. Enzi because even though his secretary kept telling him it was time to go he would just keep talking. Hren said Sen. Enzi was truly passionate and his office screamed "Wyoming."

The delegates also learned how the process of electing a president and vice president works. Hren was the Nationalist Party vice president candidate, but he lost.

"Losing was an experience," he said. 

He was then appointed by the mock president to be the National Aeronautics and Space Administration director. He said that was nice of the president to acknowledge his interest and appoint him to that position.

Despite losing that election, Hren was still able to meet U.S. Vice President Mike Pence. 

"Mike Pence was pretty cool," Hren said. 

Hren was disappointed that he wasn't able to meet President Donald Trump. However, he couldn't believe how manny dignitaries he and the others were able to meet just standing around the Eisenhower building. He said they met Abiy Ahmed, Ethiopia's Prime Minister. He said Ahmed just came up and started talking to them. 

"The experience in D.C., made the world a little bit smaller than I thought it was," he said.

This experience only reassured Hren that some day when he is done in his astronomical engineering profession, he can turn to politics. 

"My main dream it to become an astronaut and travel to Mars," he said.

However, he wouldn't put past running for U.S. President some day. He said it would be pretty cool be to the first president that has also been to another planet. 

 

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