Members of American Legion Post 80 were thanked by New Richmond High School senior Travis Messer, last summer's Badger Boys State local participant, and Greg Kier, local Badger Boys State coordinator, at the Legion's meeting Tuesday, Nov. 7.

Kier thanked the members for their ongoing support of many youth programs including Legion baseball and Badger Boys State. Kier was a past participant of Badger Boys State and continues to support this program 35 years later. Messer shared his heartfelt appreciation for being sponsored by Post 80 to attend Badger Boys State this past June.

Messer admitted he was not at all sure what to expect at this annual eight-day meeting held at Ripon College. He was amazed to see nearly 900 young men, all entering their senior year in high school, gathered together to simulate the main functions of city, county and state government using basic laws and fundamental procedures of Wisconsin as their guide.

"I never thought so many people could pull together and be so united in such a short time," Messer said. "I developed close friendships with people and believe these friendships will continue forever."

Badger Boys State is sponsored by American Legions throughout the state. Activities include sports, music, discussion sessions and news releases for The Badger Bugle Citizen which is the "official" newspaper of the citizens of Badger Boys State for the simulation. The boys themselves elect their own municipal, county and state officials including aldermen, passing laws, electing and appointing jobs, and governing together. Through this program, these leaders of the future develop a sense of individual responsibility and obligation to the community, state and nation.

There is also a Badger Girls State, which is sponsored by the American Legion Auxiliary. Badger Girls State is held at the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh campus also in June.

Boys and girls completing their junior year of high school (the summer entering their senior year of high school) are eligible for Badger Boys or Badger Girls State. Interested candidates are asked to talk with their high school guidance counselors for application material. Each American Legion has a selection process for choosing worthy participants.

Messer closed his presentation with a heartfelt thank you to American Legion Post 80 for opening his eyes to what citizenship is really all about.

Badger Boys and Badger Girls State is a great opportunity for future leaders.