Virginia State Sen. Jill Vogel (R-27th) spoke to a group of seventh grade civics students in late December at W.C. Taylor Middle School in Fauquier County.
Vogel spoke to an auditorium of seventh-graders about how the state legislature works and her role in it. The presentation was put together as an educational tool to get students excited and interested in the state government and its procedures.
“This is about the coolest thing that I get to do as a state senator. What’s really fun for me is to get to come to a school and talk to regular kids who are really interested in government.” said Vogel.
Vogel spoke to the group of students for about an hour. She gave a brief explanation of her background, telling the students that she is a Virginia native and has always seen the state has her home despite having lived in many different areas across the country.
Vogel also told the crowd that she has four children and two older stepchildren, which is not typical of a Virginia state senator. Vogel is the first woman in Virginia to have a child while in office. She is also the second woman to do so.
“I want to encourage young women who are interested and like community service and like being involved in their school, to realize that (working in the government) is accessible and possible to do while still raising a family,” said Vogel.
As a mother of a current seventh-grader, Vogel was very skilled at getting the students involved and excited about the discussion. She gave background information on the structure of the state government and its deep roots in history in a way that allowed the students to interact and stay focused.
Vogel explained how a bill is created to the students with an exercise. She divided the auditorium into the “house” and the “senate.” She asked students to propose a “bill” that would go forth for a vote.
One young man suggested a bill that would allow all 13-year-olds in Virginia to get their driver’s license. Vogel then used this fictional bill to demonstrate the voting process in both houses of the state assembly. The students were excited to participate and seemed to have a good understanding of how a bill becomes a law after the exercise.
Vogel also took questions from the students. One student asked Vogel what the strangest bill she had ever voted on was. Vogel laughingly recalled a vote to make the box turtle the official Virginia State Reptile. According to Vogel, the bill was dismissed as a waste of time and did not pass.
W.C. Taylor Middle School seventh grader Chad Smith was impressed by Vogel’s openness and candor.
“(The presentation) seemed extremely open and anybody could ask what they wanted about the senate and she had no problem answering all of our questions,” said Smith
Stacy Malcolm, also a seventh grader at W.C. Taylor, had a better understanding of the legislative process after listening to Vogel speak.
“It helped us learn a lot about it and if you wanted to become a senator that there will be a lot of steps to do and she helped us figure out what would happen before we could get there,” said Malcolm.
Another student, Kyle Darda, had no idea how difficult it was to pass a bill until he heard Vogel talk about her first-hand legislative experiences.
“It seems very hard and frustrating. You do all that work (on a bill) and another party can just send it back,” said Darda.
All of the students seemed to have a new appreciation for the state legislature after listening to Vogel.