Salt Lake City — In the wake of a recent poll that predicted record-breaking dissatisfaction with government, a former congresswoman is joining forces with a local good government group to engage young Utahns in the political process.
The Alliance for a Better UTAH launched the Karen Shepherd Internship for Ethics and Good Government Wednesday afternoon on the steps of the Utah State Capitol with the hope of reversing downward civic engagement trends.
The move comes on the heels of a recent poll by the Harvard Institute of Politics that showed only 24% of voters age 18 to 29 planned to vote this fall. The internship is designed with an eye toward reversing some of those trends here in Utah.
A similar program was started by Shepherd over two decades ago as a way to train students as ethical campaign managers. The internship gets new life now as a program within Better UTAH and with a renewed focus on non-partisan policy.
“For almost 20 years Karen Shepherd interns have worked for candidates who have promised to promote ethics and good government,” said Shepherd, the internship founder. “Now the Alliance for a Better UTAH is making sure more interns will continue to work in behalf of this same cause. It is a great privilege to have my name associated with the work of an important community organization.”
The new internship will draw on Utah’s brightest students to develop ways to create opportunities for engaging young Utahns and their leaders on the important issues of campaign finance reform, transparent governing and robust ethics laws.
If the internship program’s past performance is any indication, it could be successful. Ben McAdams, current Salt Lake County Mayor, was himself a Shepherd Intern.
“Internships are invaluable for helping students gain experience in civic life. In my case, it was a springboard to even greater involvement in politics as public service,” said Mayor McAdams.
By engaging college-age students in the political process, internship organizers hope to boost youth engagement rates in all areas of the civic process.
“Utah, despite significantly high volunteer rates, has startlingly low electoral engagement rates,” said Maryann Martindale, Better UTAH executive director. “This is especially true of young voters. But if we can engage them when they are just starting to vote, we hope to keep them engaged throughout their lives.”
More information about the program, including how to apply, can be found at: www.betterutah.org/karen-shepherd-internship
Executive Director, Alliance for a Better UTAH
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Communications Director, Alliance for a Better UTAH
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