Sheridan County Students Chosen to Represent Wyoming at Senate Youth Program

Cameron Nicholas Reckard and Tamica Lee Smith, both from Sheridan County Schools, will join Senator John Barrasso and Senator Cynthia Lummis in representing Wyoming during the 60th annual United States Senate Youth Program (USSYP) Washington Week, set for March 6-9, 2022.

Reckard and Smith were selected from among the state’s top student leaders to be part of the 104 national student delegation who will each also receive a $10,000 college scholarship for undergraduate study from the William Randolph Hearst Foundation. Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the 2021 program will break ground as the first-ever fully virtual Washington Week, and is designed to be a highly interactive and exciting education and leadership forum for the nation’s most outstanding student leaders.

Reckard, a junior at Sheridan High School, serves as the Student Council Junior Class president. He also serves as the secretary general of the Model UN team, is co-vice president of the Speech and Debate team, and is a member of the National Honor Society. Reckard participates in Interact, a community service club, competes on his school’s highly successful We The People team, and volunteers in his community with the Big Brothers Big Sisters program. He attended the 2021 Summer High School Institute at the University of Wyoming and represented his school at the Wyoming Hugh O’Brian Youth Leadership conference.

Cameron Reckard, courtesy photo

In an email interview, Cameron Reckard had this to say. “Thank you so much for reaching out! I’m very excited to participate in the program. I applied through the state Department of Education. The only requirement was to be in an elected position of public service, which my role as Junior Class Student Council Class President filled. I filled out an application which asked for more information about my activities and classes in school as well as two essays (one about something I’d like Congress to consider to do and another about what Political Activism means to me). I was told I was a finalist for the state in early November and did an interview with Wyoming DOE staff. About a month after this, I was called and told I was Wyoming’s first delegate to the 2022 session of the program!

When asked about being chosen for the chance to talk to the Senators, he said, “I feel so lucky and excited to represent the state! The Senate Youth Program is truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience, with everything from the scholarship to the interviews with high-level government officials. I am thrilled to participate in the program and can’t wait for it to get started!”

He said he is definitely planning to attend college, and hopes to achieve a business degree. “I haven’t decided on a specific concentration, but I am deciding between an International Business degree or one more focused in marketing. As for where, that is definitely up in the air. I’m definitely going to shoot high and try for schools that are quite prestigious (Harvard and Georgetown are definitely on the list), and I’m crossing my fingers I can make it in! However, whatever happens, I’m excited to be moving on to the next stage of life!”

He stated that he is very active in high school, and that he has “Really tried to branch out and try multiple things. I’ve got things more on the political side, such as Student Council and Model United Nations. I’m also a big fan of Speech and Debate and have been on the team since Sophomore year. Last year, I got to participate in the Future Filmmakers program with the WYO Film Festival, where I learned how to produce movies and finished with my very own short film, made start to finish by myself, which was a very fun experience! Overall, I love anything involving communication (meaning pretty much everything) because social interactions are really the best part of living life!”

Tamica Smith with her artwork

Tamica Smith, a senior at the Arvada/Clearmont High School, serves as the president of the Clear Creek Future Farmers of America (FFA). She is an active member of numerous student organizations, including serving as the president of Student Council and president of National Honor Society. Her community FFA organization hosted the Jerry Hampshire Benefit, a fundraiser for a community member diagnosed with cancer. She has also been recognized for her accomplishments and leadership through earning Student of the Second Quarter in 2019, and the Student of the First Quarter in 2021.

She had this to say about being chosen. “It is a huge honor to be able get the chance to do this, it gives youth a chance to see the political process. I love politics, and anything that can help me be a leader is great.

“Last year I had a teacher who recommended me to Girls state, I knew I could talk about controversial ideas. I love to argue. I attended Girl’s Nation, but it didn’t go a well as I wanted it too. I was excited to find this program to show me more the actual work and dedication that is put into politics. At Girl’s Nation I did learn that politics are very different between the different states,” Smith said.

“So I have been to Washington DC. Hearing that this year the program was virtual wasn’t really bummer. I’m still excited. We get to meet with Barrasso and Lummis do a zoom call with each of these people and others”

For her future plans, she is planning on college, and wants to find what she can afford with the help of scholarships, like the one offered by Project Youth. “I haven’t fully decided on where. I am planning to pursue a studio arts degree as well as a marketing degree. I love art and want to keep in that. I like both art and math,” Smith said. “These are fields I can love all the way, marketing and art.” She has considered Chadron, Black Hills State or U of Wyoming as possible colleges. “Staying close to home gives me a chance to stay in Wyoming,” She said, adding that she loved the state.

“I want to thank three people who helped me with this application, Mrs. Ellingrod, Mrs. Betz and Mrs. Castaneda,” Smith added.

Chosen as alternates to the 2022 program were Jaden Sophia Campbell of Saratoga, who attends Niobrara County High School, and Jackson Bridger Fouras of Teton Village, who attends Jackson Hole High School.

Each year this extremely competitive merit-based program brings the most exceptional high school students – two from each state, the District of Columbia and the Department of Defense Education Activity – to Washington, D.C. for an intensive week-long study of the federal government and the people who lead it. However, this year, the program will be held online. The mission of the program is to help instill within each class of USSYP student delegates more profound knowledge of the American political process and a lifelong commitment to public service.

The USSYP was established by the U.S. Senate in 1962, and provides an educational experience for students interested in public service careers. The program provides an in-depth view of the Senate and federal government, as well as a deeper understanding of the relationships between the Legislative, Judicial, and Executive Branches. During the program week, the student delegates will attend online meetings and briefings with senators, the president, a justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, leaders of cabinet agencies and senior members of the national media, among others.

Delegates and alternates are selected by the state departments of education nationwide, after nomination by teachers and principals. The chief state school officer for each jurisdiction confirms the final selection.

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1 Comment

  1. Thank you again for the story about our Sheridan students and their achievements and being chosen to Wyoming’s United States Senator Youth Program. I enjoy reading about their leadership in school and how there education have influence them for the future.

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