A day before the 2015 Alberta budget was released, PC Leader Jim Prentice attended a very important meeting.
“I was very excited just because I had never been to the legislature building,” said Jess Verstappen, an 18-year-old Lakeland College student that paid a visit to Prentice in Edmonton on March 25.
Last spring, Verstappen was selected as the recipient of its 49th Premier’s Award. 4-H is a project-based youth group that focuses primarily on agriculture and has numerous chapters in over 70 countries, including Canada. The Premier’s Award is the highest honour given to an Alberta 4-H member.
“(The club is) meant to teach young kids leadership, it’s meant to teach them personal skills, taking responsibility, things like that. 4-H is a very widespread organization, it’s very large all over the world and I’ve been involved with it now for six years.”
Verstappen says because of the non-stop schedule for politicians plus a change in office last year, she wasn’t able to visit the legislature and meet the premier until nearly a year after she won the award. However, the opportunity appeared to be one worth waiting for.
“It was honestly just a really nice and personal talk. It was just straight up fun, there were no real serious talks. He asked me about what issues I thought were going on in Alberta and what I would like to see changed and things like that.
“He also didn’t really know as much as to what 4-H was so I had to help explain that. But it was just a very nice, open conversation and it was a lot of fun and I thought it was a great opportunity. I mean, I never met somebody as important as the premier so it was a very, very cool opportunity.”
Before touring the Alberta legislature building with Prentice, Verstappen met with associate minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Everett McDonald, who accompanied her to meet Prentice.
Verstappen is finishing the first year of the conservation and restoration ecology program at Lakeland College.
She says she wants to work in wildlife biology and conservation biology once she completes her education, but plans to work in farming long term.