By Gabby K. ‘18
This summer, I became the 2017 Queen of the Chesapeake, an honor I earned because of my dedication to service and my public speaking ability. In this position, I have spent the year representing the entire Chesapeake Bay Area as a goodwill ambassador promoting the preservation of the Chesapeake Bay watershed, a 64,000 square mile area considered a national treasure, the center of commerce in the region, and a crucial habitat for much of our area’s wildlife. I also act as a unifying force for the community of nearly 2,000 members of 35 area yacht clubs. Every weekend, I deliver speeches concerning environmental and social justice issues. I have also become more engaged in leadership and education opportunities connecting public policy with the health of the watershed.
In September, the Chesapeake Bay Foundation asked me to become a member of the Student Bay Advisory Council. This position has helped me gain a better understanding of environmental legislation and how I can help positively impact the Chesapeake Bay Area as a high school student. Here at NDP, I have learned about the various branches of government and the policymaking process in my AP United States Government & Policy class. Taking the knowledge I gained in my class—understanding the procedure of how an idea becomes a bill, and later transforms into a law—was important when I shadowed a Maryland State Senator earlier this month.
As Queen of the Chesapeake, I wanted to find ways to engage with issues connecting the Chesapeake Bay, the environment, and local policy. When I saw that the Maryland State Senate would be discussing environmental bills, I sought out the opportunity to shadow Maryland State Senator Katherine A. Klausmeier in Annapolis.
When I arrived at the Maryland State House on March 6, 2018, I was particularly excited to find that Senator Klausmeier reserved a seat for me on the Senate floor. I saw our government in action firsthand and was even introduced when the President of the Maryland State Senate began the proceedings for the day. I sat in awe as I witnessed Senators debating bills, discussing amendments, and casting their votes. On the day of my visit, they debated multiple bills concerning environmental issues.
After the Senate session, I went to lunch with Senator Klausmeier’s staff members, who ranged in age from college students to young professionals. We discussed current events, policymaking, and our future career plans.
I spent the remainder of my day in the Finance Committee hearings. I listened to Senators, constituents, and professionals explain support or opposition to the bills being discussed. Many of the bills tied directly to environmental issues, including Senate Bill 1058, which involved the implementation of wind turbines as a source of renewable energy; Senate Bill 0732, which involved the expansion of solar energy; and Senate Bill 0691, which involved the preservation of land (farmland, forests, and wetlands).
As my day came to an end, I ran into a few representatives of the League of Women Voters. We discussed the importance of encouraging girls to take on an active role in government. As an almost NDP alumna, I felt proud to see the work that they were doing to empower women. As I think back to my shadow day in Annapolis, I can’t help but think of NDP’s mission: “where girls become women who transform the world.” Whether that transformation is running for public office, developing a new invention, or simply leading with the kindness and grace that embodies NDP, I feel assured that the community of NDP alumnae will gain 168 young women from the class of 2018, eager to transform the world around us.