Ventura: volunteerism combats apathy

Brian Close

Gov. Jesse Ventura visited the St. Paul campus on Friday to show his support for volunteerism and community outreach programs.
Wearing cowboy boots and a World Gym pullover, he spoke at the St. Paul Student Center to a group of students, community leaders and education representatives participating in a policy forum on community involvement.
Sponsored by the Minnesota Youth Service Association, the forum brought together leaders from all over the Twin Cities to discuss how to engage young people toward community service and involvement.
The governor’s visit came at the end of a day of activities. Before he arrived, participants discussed ways to present their conclusions to the governor and ask for his support for their goals.
Mark Langseth, a conference participant, told the group he has high hopes for legislative support.
“I think we really might be able to advance some agendas this year,” he said.
The group was encouraged by Ventura’s comments at last week’s State of the State address, in which he said, “I believe that greatness in this state can continue with an active, involved citizenry.”
Ventura opened his speech on Friday with the story of Joe Lynch, one of the people he honored at the State of the State address. Lynch, who is in eighth grade, was the leader of a group of students at St. Bernard’s school who constructed a playground despite obstacles.
Comparing Lynch’s struggle to his own, Ventura said it shows what people can do when they “put their nose to the grindstone.”
He praised the attendees for their volunteer work and involvement.
“Things of this nature create a great sense of values, and we need more of it,” Ventura said. “There’s nothing worse than apathy.”
He also addressed the topic of service learning, in which people learn by active participation. The University has a wide array of service learning programs, many sponsored by the Office for Special Learning Opportunities, which had several representatives at the conference.
But after the speech, service-learning consultant Rich Cairn reminded Ventura that the people in the room were already involved, and were looking for support from the Legislature.
“These are the coaches who help people get involved across the state,” he said. “What can we do to get your support for the legislative initiatives?”
But Ventura said the group needs to contact legislators to garner support from the Legislature; he said he has already voiced support for the programs.
“There is no formula,” he said. “I wish there was something I had on this.”