Nancy Crowell Ruspil has joined the KV Board. As a Mass Communication Instructor at Colorado Mesa University, Nancy teaches courses in media writing, advertising and promotion, and media impact to college students. She also has a family connection to Kids Voting Mesa County since her father, Bruce Crowell, was one of the program’s founders.
In her letter of application, Nancy states, “I inherited my dad’s passion for this mission. I also share his passion for working with youth, and for encouraging them to be thinking, involved members of the world around them. In the Mass Communication courses that I teach at CMU, one of my ongoing priorities is to emphasize independent thought and research related to all types of media, political messages and societal issues. Our free country gives us choices and voices. When young people pay attention to these privileges, their lives and futures change.”
Nancy brings a wealth of relevant experience and an abundance of great ideas for promoting and sustaining Kids Voting Mesa County.
On Thursday, March 7, Kids Voting hosted a Candidate Forum for Grand Junction City Council candidates. Nine of the ten City Council candidates participated in this event, which was open to the public , recorded by Rocky Mountain PBS and broadcast on Channel 12. Students were the key players in managing this candidate forum. They researched ballot issues, prepared questions for the candidates, and served as forum moderators and time keepers. We would like to recognize the following students for the time and effort they devoted to making the forum a success:
* Marshae Willis, Victor Dominquez, DJ Klinger, and Shaquille Wes-ton (Grand Mesa High School and Collbran Job Corps)
* Cyn-Dee Chaney and Deserae McDermott (R5 High School)
* Caleb Kostreva (home schooled)
* Wade Toothaker (Fruita Monument High School), who is also a Student Board Member serving on our Board of Directors.
* Zoë Wright-Ray (Grand Junction High School), also on our Board of Directors
Candidate forums like this one provide an opportunity for students to experience democracy in action. Kids Voting Mesa County was proud to sponsor this event and thanks the City of Grand Junction and Rocky Mt. PBS for their roles in supporting this effort.
On April 28th, Kids Voting Mesa County hosted the 5K Freedom Run/Walk at the Western Colorado Botanical Gardens along the Colorado River. Approximately 80 runners and walkers attended this event. The event was filled with sun, amazing spirit of the participants and volunteers and post-run music and run. The affiliate plans to host this fundraiser and awareness event again in the future.
Susan Redmond has joined the KV Mesa County Board. As an Internal Auditor for the Mesa County Sheriff’s Office with additional experience in outreach programs, Susan brings experience in management and accountability to the board. In her letter of application, Susan notes that Kids Voting is a family affair. “My youngest son has been involved in many of the Kids Voting activities…we have tried to instill a sense of personal and community responsibility and his involvement in Kids Voting has helped to give him opportunities to put his ideas into actions and gain a perspective of how his direct involvement can play an important part in his community.”
Mesa County Undersheriff Rebecca Spiess also has joined the board. With a background in law enforcement and active involvement in community activities, Spiess knows the importance of civic participation. A parent with two sons, Spiess has been with the Sheriff’s office since 2004.
“Doing Your Part” was the theme of the Kids Voting Mesa County (Colorado) February banquet at Colorado Mesa University. More than 200 community members, students, and educators were in attendance. K-12 students were honored for “doing their part”, because of their work with bullied special education students, serving as homeless helpers and reading mentors, leaving the high school football field to reach out to other less fortunate high school students, working to provide light to families overseas with no sustainable light source, addressing the cause of child soldiers overseas, etc. Local “top dogs” (County Commissioner, City council member, University President, Mayor, Sheriff, Chief of Police, President of the Chamber of Commerce, University Student Body President) had the chance to meet the students they would be dining with and enjoying free gift certificates for lunch donated by local restaurants.
KVUSA is pleased to announce that Ms. Rachel Nelson is the March Educator of the Month. Ms. Nelson is a social studies teacher at Grand Mesa High School at Collbran Job Corps and site coordinator for Kids Voting Mesa County. Rachel often makes the “one hour” trip to Grand Junction to allow her students to participate in a variety of activities hosted by Kids Voting Mesa County. Her students research the candidates/issues and then present the information to the entire Job Corps center sharing election knowledge with about 250 people.
Rachel Nelson, Zoe Wright-Ray and Rebecca Spiess joined the Kids Voting Mesa County board recently. Rachel Nelson is a social studies teacher at Grand Mesa High School at Collbran Job Corbs, and Zoe Wright-Ray is serving as the student member. Zoe is a sophomore at Grand Junction High School.Rebecca Spiess is the Undersheriff. Rebecca said she targeted Kids Voting because, “it is important to engage our youth early in the processes of good citizenship, civic responsibility and government.”
Kids Voting USA (KVUSA) recently was approached by Kolton Gustafson, who was very active in Kids Voting Mesa County (Colorado) while in high school and now is studying political science at George Washington University in Washington D.C. Kolton is part of a group working on a United States Youth Delegate Initiative that hopes to establish a position for a youth delegate to the United Nations within the U.S. Mission to the United Nations as well as to represent the youth voice at the United Nation. KVUSA believes that this is a worthwhile initiative and supports it. Please read the PDF for all the details.
Election 2011 is in full swing in Mesa County – and for Kids Voting. While the general election is mail-in ballot only, students in School District 51 are busy learning about the issues, interviewing the candidates and planning for their own computer-based election. Students will be voting on many of the same items found on the adult ballot and Kids Voting has resources available to help kids (and adults!) prepare to vote.
New this year, students and teachers will be using DoubleClick Democary for the actual voting process. KVMC Executive Director, Martha Graf, is excited to see what this will provide. “We are trying out the KVUSA version to save money and hopefully expand projects in our schools. This year is a test year. We hope we get lots of feedback from teachers who use it and make a decision about what to use next year during the BIG election,” explain Ms. Graf.
Additionally, the affiliate is teaming up with the League of Women Voters to offer a candidate forum. Students will run the evening, as school board candidates make their statements, and the pros and cons of the two different educational funding issues are presented by local residents.
Finally, the Daily Sentinel is supporting an activity titled, “Student Reporter Project” which is a series of articles written by students about issues and candidates.
The annual Kids Voting Civics Celebration Banquet featured a new venue, an impressive keynote address, great entertainment and follow-up appointments for “Hot Dogs with Top Dogs”.
Nearly 220 guests attended the event at the Mesa State College’s new College Center. Some of the entertainment included the award-winning Fruita Monument High School Jazz Band and an inspirational speech about the importance of being involved in the community delivered by Mesa State students Nick Lopez and Jeremy Watson.
A unique feature of the banquet involves a frenzy of bidding and buying to have a “Hot Dog with a Top Dog”. Winners this year “won” lunches with the Grand Junction Police Chief John Camper, Mesa County School District 51 Superintendent Steve Schultz, District 54 Representative Laura Bradford and others.