Five Boise State Social Work students received first and second place prizes at the National Association of Social Workers (NASW) Idaho Chapter Legislative Education and Advocacy Days (LEAD) event on Feb. 22 and 23 at the Idaho State Capitol. Cassandra Hines, a MSW student studying at the Boise campus, took home the first place prize of $300. Alexander Schloss, a MSW student studying at the Boise campus, tied with a group of students studying at the Lewiston campus, Aimee Storres, Doty Robbins, and Christi Chase, for second place.
Students from all over Idaho are invited to attend the conference. This year, a record 400 participants attended the two-day event. The first day of the event consisted of presentations given by social work professionals in the Boise area who have expertise or experience working with specific populations. Additionally, Angelo McClain, NASW’s CEO, attended the conference and provided insight into Idaho’s role in national social work issues.
The second day of the event consisted of student presentations on theoretical proposed legislation.The students designed and presented 10 minute presentations on inequality, this year’s topic for the student competition, which were given to a panel of judges. The presentations provided the students practice in formally and effectively presenting proposed change to legislators.
LEAD is a NASW conference designed to educate undergraduate and graduate social work students on legislative advocacy and its long term impact on social work clients. Legislative advocacy is often overlooked in the social work field since the legislative process tends to be a vast amount of work with often very little payoff. The event is designed not only to teach students the importance of legislative advocacy, but to give students a better grasp on the process. Students learn to the proper way to effectively talk to their state representatives about social work legislation as well as the do’s and don’ts of lobbying.
LEAD is an educational opportunity to help social work students learn and practice formal legislative advocacy, which gives them an edge when lobbying for real legislative modification. Without changes in policy, social work clients do not benefit in the long term. Through LEAD, social work students are able to learn just how important legislative advocacy is at the macro level.