Cassville High School senior Amber Johnson had the opportunity to attend Gov. Jay Nixon's State of the State Address at the Missouri State Capitol in Jefferson City on Jan. 19.
"Attending the State of the State Address was a once in a lifetime experience," said Johnson. "It was very interesting. Even though I am a Republican and he is a Democrat, I didn't find anything in the address that I disagreed with."
Johnson was invited to attend the State of the State Address after serving as a member of the State Parks Youth Corps at Roaring River State Park last summer. She served as a communications aide and had the opportunity to take historical photos of the park.
"Kerry Hays, (assistant park superintendent), was my boss," said Johnson. "I learned to take photos for historical purposes that will be stored in a file. Then, 10 to 20 years from now if they decide they want to restore something to the way it looked today those photos can be used for the restoration."
Johnson also took several photos of Youth Corps members who worked at the park last summer. Some of her photos were published in the August 2010 edition of Connection magazine.
"I was very surprised when my counselor came to me and said that because of my photos that were published in Connection magazine I had been invited to attend the State of the State Address," said Johnson.
During her visit to Jefferson City, Johnson had the opportunity to meet Gov. Nixon. She and several other members of the Youth Corps posed for a photo with the governor in the Missouri State Capitol Oval Office.
"He told us some of the history of the Oval Office," said Johnson. "Each of the state seals are carved in wood around the ceiling in the room. There is also a seal for Puerto Rico because it was done back when they thought Puerto Rico would become a state."
Members of the State Parks Youth Corps who attended the governor's speech were recognized during the address. The young adults were asked to stand and received a round of applause from state legislators.
"It was really fun," said Johnson. "I got to meet a lot of new people. Most of them were college students, which made me feel good because I'm a senior in high school."
Johnson was the only Youth Corps member from Barry County who attended the State of the State Address. Other attendees were from Springfield, St. Louis and Licking.
Johnson was excited to be recognized for the work she accomplished through the State Parks Youth Corps Program, which she hopes to participate in again this summer.
"It was such a wonderful learning process," said Johnson. "I received so many valuable skills. This program gives people a great opportunity to gain work experience.
"It also looks good on resumes," said Johnson. "Even though you are given one title, you are not tied down to that area. For instance, I was a communications aide, but I worked on the paint crew. You receive a broad range of skills that you will be able to use every day of your life."
Even though Johnson plans to pursue a career in nursing, she hopes to receive further education in the field of photography after graduating from Cassville High School this spring.
"I'm very interested in photography," said Johnson. "It is amazing how you can capture things that seem so plain, but by messing with it just a little bit in editing, you can get something completely different. It really opens your eyes to a new perspective on things."