Photo caption: From left, Nathan Gear of the American Legion of Wisconsin, Robert Batty of Badger Boys State and Chancellor James Schmidt officially signed the memorandum of understanding for the campus to host the youth leadership program for the next three years. (Photo by Shane Opatz)
The University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire and Badger Boys State on Friday officially agreed to have the university host the annual civic leadership program for high school students on campus starting in June 2022.
Chancellor James Schmidt and four representatives of Badger Boys State signed the memorandum of understanding that will bring more than 800 high school students to UW-Eau Claire from June 12-18. This year will be the first of at least three consecutive years that Badger Boys State will be at UW-Eau Claire.
Representing Badger Boys State on campus today were:
- Robert Batty, chairman of the board, Badger Boys State.
- Bill Cosh, director, Badger Boys State.
- Nathan Gear, executive secretary and adjutant of the American Legion Department of Wisconsin.
- Sheri Hicks, Badger Boys State program coordinator.
Schmidt was clear that UW-Eau Claire isn’t looking at the hosting opportunity in financial terms but as a distinct honor to welcome to campus students he believes would find a home and succeed as Blugolds.
“I’ve told everyone here; these are exactly the kind of young men we want on this campus. These are future Blugolds, people who want to make a difference in society,” Schmidt says. “They’re future school board leaders, they’re future leaders on city councils or church councils or running for office. I want to thank the American Legion for continuing to invest in this program. The educational value for the future is so important.”
Representatives of both the American Legion of Wisconsin and the Badger Boys State organizations say they are excited to bring the program to a new campus and are appreciative of the energy and enthusiasm they have seen from Blugold faculty and staff.
“We’re an all-volunteer organization, so I’m obviously very grateful for the hard work of everyone here and for all the coordination that you have done and will do to make this a success,” says Gear, who has been with the American Legion of Wisconsin since leaving the military in 2020.
“This will be my first time seeing this program in action, like many of you, so we’re thrilled to be here and are just so grateful for the opportunity.”
Dr. Louisa Rice, interim associate vice chancellor for academic affairs, looks forward to finding the synergy between the important out-of-classroom experiences of Blugolds and the unique learning experiences offered to high school students attending Badger Boys State.
“A signature element of life of this campus is what we call our high-impact practices, and what your program provides these young students is exactly that,” Rice says. “I’m excited to connect with you all while you’re here and think about how your high-impact practices and ours can interact to the benefit of both.”
Prior to this agreement, reached in September 2021, Ripon College in southeastern Wisconsin had hosted Badger Boys State since 1941, though the annual event was canceled in 2020 and 2021 because of COVID-19.