Of the 100 members who serve in the Arkansas House of Representatives, 24 of them got their first real glimpse of public service right before their senior year of high school.


These 24 members participated in the Boys State or Girls State program.


This week, the House welcomed future leaders of our state when we opened the chamber to participants of the program for a mock session.


Arkansas Boys State and Girls State is a civics education program designed for high school juniors. For over 75 years the week-long camp has shaped the lives of notable leaders such as astronaut Neil Armstrong, President Bill Clinton, basketball star Michael Jordan, former Arkansas Governors Mike Huckabee and Mike Beebe, former Texas Governor Ann Richards and news anchor Jane Pauley.


In Arkansas, Boys State is held every summer at the UCA campus in Conway. Girls State is held at Harding University in Searcy.


Each participant is assigned a mock political party, city, and county. Throughout the week, delegates administrate this mock government as if it were the real government. Every phase of the program includes instruction on the duties and responsibilities both of a citizen and of public officials.


The citizens of each “Boys State” and “Girls State” nominate members of their individual parties to be candidates for the various city and county offices. By week’s end, the students have created their own state government including their own governor and legislature.


The mock legislative session is held in the House Chamber with many of our members assisting them through the bill presentation and voting process. The proceedings and streamed and recorded via our website arkansashouse.org.


In watching the debate and presentations this week, we have no doubt there are future leaders among this class of delegates. We look forward to seeing how they impact our state.


If you know a young man or woman interested in serving encourage them to visit with their high school guidance counselor who can provide information on how to participate in next year’s program.