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JuSTEMagine Omaha's 2024 Legislative Advocacy Conference

By: Siri Doddapaneni

On March 20th, the Omaha, Nebraska chapter of JuSTEMagine traveled to the Nebraska Capitol Building in Lincoln, Nebraska for their 2024 Legislative Advocacy Conference. However, before venturing to the Capitol, the team attended advocacy training sessions in September and March to prepare for the event. The sessions featured guest speakers from the Student Association of STEM Advocacy and Penn State University, and served as a briefing about how to advocate for a STEM bill, specifically. 

In January, the team searched Nebraska Capitol records for a proposed bill in the legislature that related to STEM and eventually settled on LB 1284, which would establish a program through the Nebraska Department of Education to specially train teachers to effectively teach computer science and technology classes. This bill is beneficial as STEM classes won’t be limited to lectures and labs and will be able to delve more into technology and engineering and prepares students well for a 21st century career in the booming STEM industry. After, office meeting times were set up with various senators so the team could advocate for their cause directly. 

On the day of, the team, along with a robot from Brownell Talbot School’s competition robotics team, began by taking a tour of the Nebraska Capitol Building, where they discovered the intricacies of the building by specifically focusing on the art aspect of STEAM. First, they met with and gave their pitch to Senator Jana Hughes and Senator George Dungan, who showed immense support for the cause as well as the robot! They were then able to meet with Senator Lynne Walz, the sponsor of the bill, and give the demonstration. Later on, the team met with Senator Mike McDonnell and Senator Tom Brandt in their offices, and Senator McDonnell offered an immediate yes on signing for the bill! We sincerely thank Prairie STEM CEO Alan Wang for connecting us with some of these meeting opportunities, and all in all, it was a successful day for STEM at the Nebraska Capitol!

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