Unicam Focus

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Lesson 9: The Significance of Public Service
Lesson 9 explores the positive contributions made by public servants and the many ways that young adults can become involved in the political process.
Your Public Servants

Over the course of the semester, you have been exposed to a number of individuals who work in the public service sector. That is, their jobs consist primarily of serving the citizens of the state of Nebraska by working with laws that affect the way we live. Public servants work in government for a number of reasons: the satisfaction of serving citizens, love of the lawmaking process, or interest in the role of government in our lives.

Although there are a few officeholders who receive media attention for negative reasons, there are thousands of public servants across the nation who receive very little credit for their work to make society better for all of us. Remember that Nebraska legislators are paid only $12,000 annually for their service, so they receive very little monetary compensation. Additionally, they often work very long hours and must travel across the state in order to attend sessions in Lincoln. Sometimes, this travel removes them far from their families and friends.

Despite these hardships, the vast majority of public servants greatly enjoy working for the citizens they serve. In the upcoming video, public servants speak directly to this issue.

Critical Thinking Exercise

All communities have public servants - individuals who devote their careers to serving the larger community. However, not all of these individuals are elected. Consider the policemen and policewomen who keep your neighborhood safe, the sanitary workers who keep your neighborhood clean, and the teachers who help you learn. Who are the public servants in your community?

Getting Involved

The American democracy is founded on the idea of citizen involvement. Even legislators are citizens; they are citizens who have decided to make public service a full time pursuit. However, a number of citizens - particularly young adult - do not participate in government. Many young adults lack efficacy, a sense of political self-confidence. They may not know that legislators are willing to respond to their concerns, or they may be unaware of the hundreds of ways that they can participate. The two videos below address these issues.

What Can I Do?

Throughout the UniCAM Focus series, you have learned a number of ways in which you can become a more involved citizen. Remember - citizenship is not defined by your age. Even if you are too young to vote, you are old enough to write a letter to your state senator, to visit a city council meeting, or to read about politics in a newspaper or magazine.