HURON — Engaging young people through education panels and interaction with government officials could be a meaningful way to attract them to the Republican philosophy, the second vice president of the South Dakota Federation of Republican Women said.
“I’ve always had a passion for our youth and the Republican Party,” Penny Sattgast said Monday.
She is proposing what she’s calling a South Dakota Truth for the Youth campaign to the federation, encouraging those in the teen-age and college Republican clubs across the state to attend panel discussions with business owners, veterans, government officials and others.
“Kids like stories,” Sattgast said at the Beadle County Republican Women luncheon. “Why don’t we give them just real world ideas?”
Speakers could educate the young people on how to start and run a business and why South Dakota is a state with low taxes and few regulations, she said.
“And let the kids kind of figure it out on their own, let them ask questions,” she said. “Maybe we’d get more kids to come to these because we’re not just shoving Republican stuff down their throats.
“Kids are smart. They just need exposure to figure out what’s right and wrong for themselves besides what they see online,” Sattgast said.
She suggested that while the federation could establish the framework for such events, it would be up to local GOP county organizations to run their own programs.
In layered government panels, they could invite local elected city and county commissioners, school board members, legislators and the congressional delegation to events, she said.
“Let these kids figure out real world stuff,” Sattgast said, saying it could be a way to attract more young people to the Republican Party.
Federation members could also perhaps attend local school board meetings and board of regents sessions to learn what’s going on in the education system.
Sattgast said a recent experience with a young person showed her that kids aren’t always aware of major historical happenings, such as the June 6 allied invasion of Normandy that was a turning point in World War II.
The young woman asked Sattgast what D-Day was when the subject came up. While it was something that was frightening, it was probably not all that unexpected, Sattgast said. “I just really struggled with that; it’s just so sad.
“It’s a really good example of why we really, really have to stay focused on youth engagement and really step up our efforts as Republicans,” she said.
With Sattgast at the luncheon Monday was her daughter, Claire Rydberg, president of the South Dakota Teen Republicans, also known as TARs.
As chair of the federation’s youth engagement program, Sattgast works with her daughter and others in TARs.
Rydberg talked about her involvement in the organization for the past six years. She is trying to recruit more young kids, from middle school on through high school.
The 60th anniversary of TAR Camp in the Black Hills is next year. The goal is to get 50 kids to attend.
Rep. Dusty Johnson, R-S.D., grew up in TARs and served as its advisor for many years.
“Dusty Johnson, when he was the advisor, said that if we got 50 kids to camp we’d get to shave his head,” Rydberg said. “Since he’s no longer the advisor, Ryan Brunner (commissioner of school and public lands) is, so we’ll get to shave Ryan’s head,” she said.