The Grand Haven High School senior was among 100 female students who participated in the 70th American Legion Auxiliary (ALA) Girls Nation in Washington, D.C., last week. Plowman, 17, was selected as one of two Michigan “senators” chosen for the national program after they participated in the 50 ALA Girls State programs across the country.
Throughout the six-day conference, the teens participated in mock senate trials, where senators “write, caucus and debate bills.” They also elected a president and vice president.
Before attending Girls Nation, Plowman participated in Girls State, where she served as part of the executive branch. During the state-level program, participants elected city, county and state level officials.
Through the hands-on activities, Plowman said she learned that although it can be a long process, it gives everyone a chance to speak their mind and have their opinions heard.
Plowman’s interest in government started when she visited Lansing with her fourth-grade class.
Through Girls Nation, Plowman said she met people of different backgrounds and experience, and it’s opened her mind to new things.
“It’s given me a new appreciation that we’re all different,” she said.
Girls Nation participants also heard from speakers and visited the Pentagon, White House, D.C. monuments and Arlington National Cemetery, and met state senators and representatives at the Capitol.
Plowman said she’s not entirely certain what she wants to do with her future, but she hopes to pursue opportunities that allow her to make changes, because that’s one aspect she enjoyed through Girls Nation.
In addition, Plowman has been involved in Grand Haven High School’s DECA (marketing) program and has been part of the Grand Haven Area Community Foundation Youth Advisory Council.
When Plowman looks back at her Girls Nation experience, she said she will remember the people who shaped the events and the amount of work the American Legion Auxiliary put into the week. She thanks the auxiliary for providing the opportunity and her parents for their support.
In a press release, American Legion Auxiliary Girls Nation Chairwoman Pamela Ray said the program is a “once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for young women” to learn about the federal government.
“After attending their local ALA Girls State program and then ALA Girls Nation, the girls return home filled with knowledge, patriotism and pride,” she said.