WILLISTON, N.D. - Williston State College's State and Local Government class, taught by Assistant Professor Richard Stenberg, traveled to Bismarck to observe the ND State Legislature in action and get a first-hand look at how government is run at the state level.
The class is taught during the spring semester of odd-numbered years, which corresponds to when the North Dakota State Legislature is in session. While the class is taught at most North Dakota universities, Williston State is one of a few that utilizes a field trip.
"I've been teaching this class since 1995 and the field trip to the legislature is always a highlight for the class," Stenberg said. "It reinforces what the students are learning in the classroom and gives them a greater understanding of what they hear in lecture."
Each student is required to do a research project, which consists of choosing a bill or resolution that is introduced to the legislature, and following it to its ending, whether that means it dies in committee, gets killed on the floor of either the Senate or the House, or it gets passed and is signed into law. They then write a paper detailing the information they gather.
"The field trip gives the students a chance to meet with the sponsor(s) of their particular bill or resolution, and some of them are even able to hear their bill being discussed either in committee or on the floor," Stenberg said.
This year, the students were able to meet with and have a photo taken with the Lt. Governor Drew Wrigley and with the Chancellor of the North Dakota Board of Higher Education William Goetz.
"It's not every college class that gets the ear of the chancellor so this was quite a unique opportunity for our students," Stenberg said. "They were able to sit down with him and tell him their thoughts and ideas about higher ed in North Dakota, and specifically about Williston State."
Participants toured the Judicial Wing of the capitol and were able to sit in the North Dakota Supreme Court hearing room and hear from an appellate lawyer how the court runs.
The students agree that the trip is a valuable tool for them to use in their educational experience.
"I have learned a lot in class about the process of passing and failing bills, but being able to sit in on this process and watch how it works made everything a lot clearer to me," said sophomore Macall Wimer. "The trip to the capitol building helped me a lot with my bill project. I received a lot of information that will help me do more research on my bill. Everyone was friendly and willing to help me find information. The librarian showed me where all the information was and helped me copy what I needed. I also got the opportunity to talk with one of my bill sponsors and find out a little bit more about why he chose to bring it up."
"Our trip was extremely beneficial, the best way to learn about something is to experience it first hand," said Doug Richter, a sophomore at WSC. "The trip enhanced the class; we got real life experience dealing with North Dakota's government. We were exposed to many aspects of our government that had we not taken part in this trip, we would have only been able to read about."
Other students taking the course who traveled with the class are Jacob Braaten, Brandon Delvo, William Lind, Heather Montgomery, Melanie Russell, Loren Yellow Bird Jr., Clara Reinke, Tiffani Ferrell, Michael Hanson, and Sarah Skabo. The class was also accompanied by Dr. Raymond Nadolny, president of WSC.
The Williston State College State and Local Government class traveled to Bismarck and were able to meet with N.D. Lt. Governor Drew Wrigley.