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Broadfording students sets sights high

May 06, 2002|BY ANDREA ROWLAND

andreabh@herald-mail.com

Cheryl Higgins' happy memories of time spent on her grandparents' farm have shaped her plans for the future.

The home-schooled student, who also attends classes at Broadfording Christian Academy in Hagerstown, will pursue a career in agriculture economics in hopes of one day helping small farmers find ways to preserve their livelihoods despite ever-increasing restrictions and shrinking profits.

"I just don't want the larger farms to take over," said Cheryl, 18, daughter of Linda and Lewis Higgins, who live near Cearfoss. "I'd like to work for the (agricultural) extension service to help farmers meet their economic needs."

Her desire to learn more about how government policies and processes influence agriculture prompted Cheryl to apply last fall for work as a student page at the Maryland General Assembly in Annapolis, she said.

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She served as a paid page on the floor of the House of Delegates from Feb. 11 to 15 and March 25 to 29, observing government in action by day and lodging with a family in Annapolis at night. Cheryl saw firsthand the legislative process that affects farmers and all other Maryland residents, she said.

"The condition of a government directly affects the quality of life for its citizens," said Cheryl, whose opinions about the impact of government on the people were strengthened during a one-month youth mission trip to a poverty-stricken area of Russia last summer.

Her experiences in rural Russia and as a page made her "realize the necessity of having strong and capable leadership in government," Cheryl said.

As a page, Cheryl worked for 11 delegates in section four in front of the House, passing out press packets, sorting bills in delegates' binders and running errands for them, she said.

She had the opportunity to watch an appropriations committee meeting, and listen to debate about such issues as the legalization of marijuana for medical purposes and balancing state security and individual rights, Cheryl said.

"I saw that the delegates were extremely concerned about important issues," she said. "And I was really thankful and surprised that a lot of the delegates were down-to-earth and friendly. They really did their research and were very articulate."

During their free time, Cheryl and her peer pages sometimes debated issues on the House floor among themselves.

"It just really made me think about how there are good arguments for both sides," she said. "It forced me to ask a lot of questions and be more outgoing amongst people I didn't know very well."

While Cheryl was impressed with the workings of state government, she said her experience as a page made her realize that she would rather work directly with small farmers than with agricultural issues at the legislative level.

She plans to major this fall in agriculture and resource economics at the University of Maryland - College Park. After graduation, Cheryl hopes to work for the agricultural extension service, she said.

Cheryl serves as co-captain of the volleyball and softball teams at Broadfording Christian Academy, where she was elected Homecoming Queen in September 2001. She is the school's senior class home-school representative.

Cheryl is also active at Calvary Grace Brethren Church in Hagerstown.

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