A Chance on The Hill

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18-year old Kyle Johnson won a trip to Washington D.C. through the local grassroots lobby group, Citizen Alert, because of an essay he wrote about the federal government's involvement in Yucca Mountain.
Johnson spent a week in D.C. learning how to lobby and actually had the chance to do a little himself.

It's not an easy subject to tackle.
Even the Bush administration debates the use of Yucca Mountain in Nevada as a nuclear waste dump and it's capacity.

But, this senior at North Valleys High School decided to write about it's effect on the the state and who exactly should have a say in it's use.
It won him a free trip to DC and a chance to push his plan on the hill.

"It's really quite an experience getting to talk to all these big names in politics and high figures in society and have them listen to you and get your point across."

John Hadder, with Citizen Alert, says the essay contest gave the group a chance to reach out to younger citizens.
"This is the kind of leadership we hoped to foster in our community: to take on issues, to discuss it, to think about it, to talk about it with their friends."

Johnson says he does talk about these issues with his friends... although, he doe admit Yucca Mountain isn't usually among the high school gossip heard in the hallways.
But, he says he learned valuable information when he was the lobbyist.
If he does decide to pursue it as a career, he says he would do so proudly.

"It was a big thing for me, as a high schooler, to come out and share my beliefs because they know I am a future voter. They know I was 18 and I could sway my vote anyway."
Johnson says it's important for other young people to speak up, and listen to what's occurring around them in the community.

"We're the future. If we don't have open minds or a desire to take initiative or set any sort of precedence in the future, then we're pretty much lost."

Johnson plans to attend UNR next fall and major in theater and possibly add a second major in civil engineering before he graduates.
For more information about Citizen Alert, you can go to it's website at www.citizenalert.org.