Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Rep. Cory Gardner (R-Colo.) are helping celebrate the 50th anniversary of the United States Senate Youth Program, which helped them develop their public service chops.
Each year, the USSYP corrals high-school-aged wonks-in-training for a reverse rumspringa in the nation’s seat of power. Collins (class of 1971 and first USSYP alumna elected to the Senate) and Gardner (class of 1993 and first USSYP alumnus elected to the House) have signed on to help commemorate an organization they both continue to cherish.
“At that time, I had never flown on an airplane, had never been to Washington and had never met a U.S. Senator,” Collins tells HOH of her pre-D.C. experiences.
Gardner recalls meeting several high-profile politicians, but he said his lasting impression was finally finding a place he fit in.
“Meeting with so many kids my age who felt so passionate about their country. And being able to, for the first time ever, have that common interest with every single person in the room,” he said.