For the Children:  
Youth Programs Can Lead to Future Careers 
By OICA CEO Joe Dorman
June 29th 2017


I had the great pleasure last week of visiting a summer youth program at Bridgestone Intermediate School in western Oklahoma City.  This group of about thirty students in the 5th and 6th grade was a joy to meet with, and many of them were already expressing an interest in politics. They asked me to share my story with them: how I became a state legislator, a gubernatorial candidate and now the director of OICA. As I related that story, I realized that many of my lifelong passions developed when I was only slightly older than them.  

My interest in politics really started in earnest when I served as a page for Senator Ray Giles as a high school student.  From that experience, I knew I wanted to dedicate myself to a career path of helping shape policy and working in the best interest of my fellow Oklahomans.

I had this experience thanks to a 4-H award which I won my junior year.  I had joined 4-H when I was the same age as the Bridgestone students I met last week, and I experienced many wonderful leadership development opportunities which not only took me outside the town limits of Rush Springs, but all across the United States. I continued in the program through graduation and was even active as a collegiate 4-Her at Oklahoma State.  Because of 4-H, I found my calling in life with public service.

It is important for all kids to find that special program, project or interest which inspires them to get more engaged in organized activities.  Some might prefer outdoor adventures, while others might be motivated by indoor undertakings such as reading or debate.  Art programs come in all forms, whether it be sketching and painting, or photography work as I chose with my 4-H project. There are tremendous opportunities which present themselves for young men and women who are interested in showing animals at the different fairs.  4-H is just one of many programs that help develop the leaders of tomorrow and we need more youngsters joining organizations like these.

It is vital for adult role models to work with children looking for inspiration. This will help them find that activity which starts as a hobby in their youth and will quite possibly develop into a career path as they grow older. I believe every effort we exert to educate Oklahoma children about potential careers through their hobbies and interests will better build our future workforce. Many of my friends found a way to develop their high school projects into pathways to success through a career, but it also took adults around them to help them find that way.

The Bridgestone Intermediate students reinforced to me about why it is important to take time to visit with these future adults. I hope each of them finds that career path through one of these adventures which will make them happy in life. Thanks to Senator Giles, I found my calling through public service and I am forever grateful for that opportunity extended to me.

Editor’s note – if you know of a high school student interested in government, recommend that they contact their local legislator about serving as a page. You can find contact information for your local legislators at 

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