Putzke attends leadership conference in D.C.

This article submitted by Linda Stelling on 8/6/96.

Mike Putzke, 17, Paynesville, was selected to attend the 10th annual National Young Leaders Conference July 14 to 24 in Washington, D.C. The National Young Leaders Conference is a leadership development program for high school students who have demonstrated leadership potential and scholastic merit. Putzke was one of seven from Minnesota attending the conference out of a total of 350 young scholars from across the world. Besides the United States, there were 16- to 19-year-old students attending from, Canada, Mexico, Swaziland, and Sweden to name a few. "What was really sad was the kids from other countries knew a lot more about our government and its leaders than we know about their's," Putzke said.

.As part of the conference, the teens participated in a number of leadership skill building activities. In one activity, "If I Were President," students role-played the president, members of the cabinet and representatives from Capitol Hill who must respond to an international crisis involving Russia. Putzke said he served as the Secretary of Commerce.

In a Supreme Court role-playing session, Mike was Justice Stevens and they heard a case of a girl wanting to enter a military college. "The state had a military college for girls but it wasn't up to the same standards as the male counter-part," Putzke said. "We settled in favor of the girl wanting to enter the all-male school."

Culminating the conference is the model Congress, in which scholars assume the roles of United States representatives by debating, amending and voting on proposed legislation on welfare and presidential war powers. Putzke was a member of a caucus working to redo the presidential war powers act. "We got our bill to Congress but it was shot down," he added.

While in Washington, Putzke visited with Senators Rod Grams and Paul Wellstone. "I really enjoyed meeting the congressmen," he said. "At first I thought they were doing this because they had to, but Wellstone called me back as the group was leaving and started talking about Paynesville being a wrestling school and how his son wrestled. We talked about Minnesota and were able to relate on several topics," Putzke added.

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