Idaho legislature declares annual Legion youth programs day

The Idaho legislature and The American Legion Department of Idaho celebrated the passing of Senate Concurrent Resolution 101 on March 31, which declares the second Thursday of January each year as American Legion Youth Programs Day in the state. The resolution, which was co-sponsored by Legionnaire and Sen. Marv Hagedorn, Sen. Bart Davis and Rep. Scott Syme, was adopted by a unanimous vote in both Idaho legislative chambers. The mission of the resolution is to build awareness about the Legion's many youth programs and to receive financial support from state corporations and individuals.

"This could be a resolution drive through every (American Legion) department's state legislature to build awareness of our youth programs and in turn increase participation, and to increase donations" to ensure the longevity of the programs, said John Stevenson, Idaho Boys State director and a member of Post 13 in Lewiston.

The resolution calls on members of the Idaho legislature to "strongly supports awareness of American Legion Family Youth Programs" and also encourages them to promote the benefits of Idaho youth programs to students, parents, educators, guidance counselors, community and civic leaders in their respective districts. The resolution also calls on the Idaho legislature to encourage local entities "to partner with the Idaho American Legion Family through annual donations to expand and enhance these youth programs for the benefit of the youth of Idaho and, in turn, the state of Idaho."

The Department of Idaho and Auxiliary recently formed a youth programs committee for the purpose of raising public awareness on its youth programs – Boys and Girls State, Oratorical Contest, Legion Baseball and more – and to directly solicit annual donations from local corporations, corporate and private foundations, trade groups and other entities interested in supporting the Idaho Legion Family and its youth-focused programs. A separate 501(c)3 status was formed under the new committee to establish one account for all youth program donations.

The idea for the second Thursday of January to be named youth programs day was inspired by the department's legislative reception held annually during its Mid-Winter Conference on that particular day. During this time, Legionnaires receive an opportunity to meet with their state representatives and senators to "talk about the needs of the veterans and what we want to see changed here in Idaho," said Department Adjutant Abe Abrahamson, "as well as how we can make the relationship between the legislature and veterans better here in the state."

For the department's 2018 Mid-Winter Conference, a framed copy of the resolution will be displayed and will serve as a reminder to the legislative attendees about their ongoing support for American Legion Youth Programs Day in Idaho.