Each year, Washburn County’s eighteen year old high school students are invited to spend a day having their eyes opened to a bigger world than the one that exists inside the narrow walls of their environment.

With the school’s curriculum already loaded with subjects, local government seems to have lost its place in the syllabus of our local schools.

This American Legion County Youth Government Day Program was designed to fill in this important gap by introducing students to the importance of their own county government before they leave the school system so they can witness the inner workings of all the systems there are, all that create the type of towns in which they live. 

When students turn eighteen they are given the right to vote for people in various offices from coroner to president, and so many of them, and so many adults, are ignorant of the most simple of facts that, if known, could change the way we see how we are governed.

On Tuesday, November 15, the six students that have been chosen from each of the four schools in Washburn County, Minong, Spooner, Shell Lake and Birchwood, will meet in the law enforcement meeting room in order to learn how Washburn County runs, including speakers from the highway department, the sheriff’s office, the judge, zoning, human services, the treasurer and the clerk of court.

Students will visit the courtroom to learn how that system works and they will also visit law enforcement offices to understand more fully how the long arm of the law works, including learning about how those in jail are housed and the job of the SWAT team. They’ll also attend a county board meeting.

And why would the American Legion think this is important to sponsor and host? According to local Post 225 Commander, Kent Wabrowetz, “This is an opportunity for students to learn how our local county runs and how local laws are passed and upheld.” After all, if we, as American’s ask our young men and women to fight for this country, it’s important for them to know exactly what they’re fighting for, and how we create governments that exist within and because of our freedoms.

The American Legion is also the organization that sponsors the Badger Boys and Badger Girls, sending them to Ripon, Wisconsin once a year to participate in a similar program, but this time with a state level view of government.

Washburn County not only has the American Legion, it also hosts two additional service related groups, the VFW and the AMVETS.

The VFW was formed by the Veterans of Foreign Wars and it is for American service personnel who served in the military honorably in an overseas conflict.

The AMVETS requires that personnel have served in the U.S. Armed Forces, including the National Guard and Reserves any time after September 15, 1940.

The American Legion was created for those who served active duty in the US Armed Forces during any of the war eras, from WW1 forward, or who are still serving. 

Currently Post 225 in Shell Lake has forty members that meet in their new building at 408 First Street every fourth Thursday at 6:30. They share their space with VFW Post 9867 and the Shell Lake Honor Guard and are always welcoming new members. For further information about the American Legion or their student programs, call Commander Wabrowetz at 715-520-3253

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