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"Uneventful" Highlands County

One of the most enjoyed types of television these days are crime and detective shows, from the prisons and high tech technology that gives DNA evidence in a few seconds. However, from my experience with Government Day with Youth Leadership Highlands, I have learned that most of these things are overly dramatic to help gain views.

To start the day off we learned about the Discipline ridge. As a leader, we must be disciplined to not only be a good leader of others but be leaders of ourselves. Throughout the entire day the group was exposed to a lot of people whose jobs require them to be extremely disciplined not only to keep themselves safe but others as well.

The first person we listened to was the Clerk of Courts, Bob Germaine. His job requires him to be able to withstand loads of paperwork and be able to multitask at times. As the Clerk of the Courts, he fills out important paperwork work, helps in court when it comes to documentation of the events, and he helps out with everyday things such as taxes and what money can be used for what.

After hearing about the Clerk of Courts, we heard from a very inspiring lady, Judge Cowden. As a judge she has precided over countless numbers of cases. Before she was a judge she was a practicing attorney and before that she was a chemist. Judge Cowden was very humorous and explained the process to become a judge and shared her own story. She explained the schooling she went through, the tests she had to take, and the hardships she overcame to become a judge. She also compared being a leader to a judge and explained how you have to be disciplined to be a good judge. As a judge, you make decisions about people and their lives and if you are not extremely disciplined and thoughtful, you could ruin someone's life. You have to be sharp in your character and sharp in the law to be a good judge.

After hearing from Judge Cowden, we heard from Sheriff Paul Blackman. Sheriff Paul Blackman talked to us about the different jobs of the deputies and what they do to keep the community safe. The most shocking part of his speech was the numbers he gave for the amount of arrests made and pullovers made per day. He also informed us of the mind boggling number of prisoners in the prison. There are a total of 500 inmates in the highlands county jail at a given time. As a person who lives in what I thought was fairly "uneventful" Highlands County, it was shocking to hear the number of inmates they have.

Next, we heard from Penny Ogg the Supervisor of Elections. Mrs. Ogg explained the voting process and then let us hold a mock election of the best sports team and social media platform. After hearing from Mrs. Ogg we heard from Kathy Perez and the CSI team. Her team and her explained what it takes to be a CSI officer. You must have a strong stomach and be able to put up with things such as dead bodies and blood.

After hearing from all of these wonderful people and learning about their cool jobs, we headed over to the jail and were given a tour. Unlike on television, jail is not just all rusting metal bars. It was shocking to see the main color of the inside was tan everything was tan. The prison itself, while scary to some, was an interesting experience. We were able to see inmates and walk through the guard towers. We went through booking and were given a rundown of how things operated. Overall I would say visiting the jail was an eye opening experience.

To end our day, we ate lunch at the gun range. Lunch consisted of prison PB&J. It had a very odd texture and made me very grateful for the food I have. After lunch we experienced a SWAT demonstration and got to climb all over the big SWAT car. After, SWAT the K-9 unit performed a really cool demonstration with the dogs and explained their training. We ended the day with a drone demonstration and then loaded back on the bus to debrief the day and enjoy snacks.

I had a great experience during Government Day and I know I can speak for others and say that the rest of the group did as well. It was an experience totally worth missing school for. I hope that others will continue to enjoy the same experiences that this year's amazing YLH group has. This trip helped us bond and grow into better leaders. Thank you so much for letting us have this amazing experience.

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