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YPCS participants practice their freedoms of assembly and speech during a rally on MSU's campus.
YPCS participants practice their freedoms of assembly and speech during a rally on MSU's campus.
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LANSING, MI -- Local high school students were among the more than 130 Michigan teens from across the state who participated in Michigan Farm Bureau's (MFB) Young People's Citizenship Seminar (YPCS), June 16-18 at Michigan State University in East Lansing.

The annual event aims to educate young people about the American political system, and inspire them to take an active role in it.

A packed schedule of informational, recreational and social events challenged participants to rally around causes, develop political platforms and ultimately win over the hearts and minds of their peers to support their issues.

Those who registered to vote made their choices by casting ballots in actual voting booths.

This year's issues dealt with labeling genetically-modified food products, antler-point restrictions for deer hunters, tax credits for wind energy and raising fuel taxes to fund infrastructure improvements.

Throughout the seminar, speakers wove together themes of service, perseverance, self-motivation and leadership. Among them this year were inspirational speaker Sheri Wohlfert; Dist. 16 Sen. Bruce Caswell, encouraging participants to be the best versions of themselves; MFB Chief Operating Officer Scott Piggott, encouraging students to embrace their freedoms and make a difference; and Farm Bureau Insurance Vice President of Marketing Vic Verchereau, who encouraged students to help build a better America one person at a time.

New this year, students toured the Michigan Supreme Court in downtown Lansing. Justice David F. Viviano discussed the judicial system and the role of the Supreme Court. He also discussed his background and experience before answering questions.

"YPCS gives young people a better understanding of how they can make a difference in the political process through hands-on experience," said seminar coordinator Amelia Miller, communication and education specialist for MFB's Center for Education and Leadership Development.

"We challenge participants to learn the issues, listen to others' viewpoints and make an educated decision before casting their vote at the conclusion of the seminar."

Social and recreational activities throughout the week help foster camaraderie among students from diverse backgrounds. Notable past YPCS participants include former Lt. Governor Dick Posthumus and U.S. Congressman Mike Rogers.

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