LINGLE – Lingle Ft. Laramie High School eleventh-grader Emma Walker, 17, is eager to put her community leadership skills to work this summer at the 80th session of American Legion Auxiliary Wyoming Girls State event – and she is looking forward to learning new leadership skills. Meanwhile, former Girls State Delegate and soon-to-be college freshman, Jordan Stoddard, 18, is the recipient of an American Legion Scholarship.
“I grew up on a ranch which already comes with a lot of responsibilities, you learn pretty early,” Walker said. “But, I’ve also learned a lot of great leadership skills through my community service work at my school, my church and within my community.”
Walker said small things like “making sure all the animals are fed properly and on-time on the ranch when we are small children teaches us independence, responsibility and strong leadership skills we can later apply in life.”
“Your level of commitment directly affects whether or not a baby chick survives to maturity or not,” Walker added. “Which in a lot of ways is how civic life as an adult works, you’ve got to nurture your involvement and community dedication in order to benefit from it.”
The purpose of the American Legion Auxiliary Department of Wyoming Girls State is to equip girls entering their senior-year of high school with citizenship training in an immersive opportunity to learn how the government works. Young ladies from around the state will live together in a self-governing community learning about the duties, responsibilities, privileges and rights for every American citizen so that they can understand and later participate in civic engagement either from a citizen stance and/or an elected office stance.
The event will take place at Laramie County Community College in Cheyenne from June 5 through 11.
In a press release, LaGrange Town Clerk Cathy Stoddard wrote, “Emma will have hands-on leadership experiences in government and Americanism as she participates in a simulation of the political process.”
Stoddard’s daughter was the 2021 LaGrange Girls State delegate who is friends with Walker.
“I really didn’t know anything about it at first,” Walker said, “But my friend Jordan (Stoddard) went last year so she gave me some advice and what to expect and her mom really helped me figure out the process.”
“Mostly I’m nervous because taking on responsibility like this is a big deal and I hope I do it justice,” Walker said, “but I’m excited to get to it because this experience is a lot different than what I’ve ever done before – and that’s a good thing.”
Walker believes her community-focused service within the various clubs she participates in will help her at the immersive experience.
“I’ve helped plant trees at Bell Park Tower apartments with my youth group and taught art class a few times, so these sort of things I do believe will help be successful because I’ve had to fill leadership roles,” Walker added.
While at Girls State, Walker will be joining other delegates as they campaign for election, serve in offices, pass legislation, rule on judicial matters and meet with Wyoming State elected officials.
“The experience of Girls State offers future leaders an opportunity to discover their potential as well-informed, active citizens, ready to serve and lead in their own communities,” Cathy Stoddard stated.
Meanwhile, the 79th session of American Legion Auxiliary Wyoming Girls State delegate and Southeast High School senior Jordan Stoddard, 18, was awarded a $250 scholarship from the LaGrange American Legion for her leadership and dedication to the community in the Laycock-Stark-Gregory Scholarship Essay.
Stoddard had to interview a military veteran and then write about what she learned in an essay.
Her essay titled, ‘Just Listen - The life lessons of Quartermaster James Kallay, USN” read:
“We are really proud and excited for Jordan,” Jordan’s mother and LaGrange Town Clerk Cathy Stoddard said. “She already earned a full-ride scholarship to a D1 university in South Dakota for Track and Field but as her mother, it’s heartwarming to know she is concentrating on all things that matter to her future – like being civically minded.”
Due to senior projects, senior clubs and extracurricular activities, high school graduation and Wyoming State Girls Track and Field championship, Jordan Stoddard was unavailable before publication to be interviewed.
After a short weather delay over the weekend, Walker participated in the Wyoming State Track and Field Championship in Cheyenne running in the girls 100 hurdles, 300 hurdles and 4x4 relay. Lingle Ft. Laramie High School scored 86 points in the states 1A girls division for third place. Walker placed eighth in the 100 hurdles, sixth in the 300 hurdles and first in her team 4x4 relay race.
Her friend and last year’s Girls State delegate twelfth-grader Jordan Stoddard, 18, also participated in the Wyoming State Track and Field Championship in Cheyenne running in the girls 100-meter, 200-meter races as well as the high and long jump events. Southeast High School scored 104 points in the states 1A girls division for second place. Stoddard placed first in the 100-meters, first place in the 200-meters, first place in the high jump and first place in the long jump.