This post was co-written by Indira Jimenez.
NLC’s annual Congress of Cities is the largest gathering of local elected officials and staff in the country. This year’s conference in Nashville also included a large number of youth delegates.
Over 200 youth delegates, from Jacksonville, Florida to Seattle, Washington, came together in Nashville to learn from and network with local officials and their peers and gain valuable leadership skills.
NLC’s youth delegate program offers young people the opportunity to attend the many workshops and general sessions alongside adult delegates. This year, youth delegates had the unique opportunity to hear Vice President Joe Biden speak to a standing room crowd about the important role that local leaders play in improving the lives of Americans.
The youth delegate program also includes youth-specific events. This year featured keynote addresses from high school students who founded and direct two national nonprofits, The Elevator Project and Chess for Humanity. Vanderbilt University also hosted a dinner for the youth delegates at the historic Wyatt Center, which included a very engaging discussion of current social issues.
Another new addition to this year’s programming, and a highlight for many of the youth delegates was a mock Iowa Caucus, where they demonstrated their passion and interest in political issues. The youth delegates followed the unique model of caucus used in Iowa’s political primaries. Youth delegates served as precinct captains for a total of 10 candidates from both parties, and did their best to influence their peers to support their candidate. After a very spirited three rounds of voting, Hillary Clinton (D) and Ben Carson (R) emerged as the victors in each party.
It wasn’t all work and no play though. Nashville youth leaders organized a fun Instagr-avenger Hunt that used photos inthe popular app Instagram as the answers to clues about Nashville’s culture and history that were hidden throughout downtown. Afterwards, the group of future leaders went to the Musicians Hall of Fame and Museum for a Music City-style celebration. Nashville singer-songwriters Levi Hummon, Sarahbeth Taite and Jimmy Robbins showcased their incredible talents in a private performance. After the show, these rising stars posed for pictures with the youth delegates.
About the Authors:
Laura E. Furr is the program manager for justice reform and youth engagement in NLC’s Institute for Youth, Education, and Families. Follow Laura on Twitter at @laura_furr.