The students, members of Cynthia Martinez’s Advanced Placement government and Julie Salido’s AP U.S. history classes, were invited to speak as part of the 14th Congressional District Student Advisory Board. A new board is chosen each year. Eshoo, D-Palo Alto, created the board during her first term as a U.S. representative in 1993.
Acting as representatives for Santa Cruz County youth, seniors Hyllery Hershberger and Miri Becker and juniors Jonathan Bukowski, Ajna Weaver, Catrina Tellez, Parker Woodard, Johann Prambs and Kendra Forst gave speeches highlighting topics they would like to see Congress focus on, including public policy recommendations for Eshoo.
The teens’ presentations covered such topics as abortion and contraceptive accessibility, stem cell research, expanding veterans’ benefits, preventing and anticipating medicine shortages, consequences of antibiotics use in livestock, information about genetically modified organisms in foodstuffs, water safety and coastal monitoring, and pros and cons of hydraulic fracturing for oil and natural gas.
“From either side, we need to listen to each other,” said Hershberger, who served as co-president of the student panel with Becker.
Each student’s report will be presented to members of Congress, Eshoo said, and will be catalogued in the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C.
“People from all over the world will have access to your reports,” she said.
Eshoo lauded the teenagers for their commitment, calling them inspiring as she presented each with a certificate of special congressional recognition.
“Don’t ever give up your idealism,” she said. “Taking an issue and examining it goes a lot farther than reading a bumper sticker.”
A ninth teenager, SLV junior Michaella McFarland, was also recognized but was unable to attend.
Eshoo said that despite the challengingpolitical climate, seeing young people’s understanding of current issues made her hopeful for the future.
“Our country needs good, passionate and sensible leaders,” she said. “I don’t worry about the future of our country when it comes to you.”