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The makings of a leader

Nicole Ferree, 16, a Moffat County High School sophomore, sits in a Craig City Council member’s chair on a recent Monday afternoon. City council chambers are familiar to her father, Jim Ferree, who is Craig’s city manager. Nicole also is thinking about a career in politics and hopes to become a legislative aid when she finishes school.

Until this school year, Nicole Ferree hated politics, pure and simple, she said.

She couldn't get away from the subject. She heard about it often at home, which isn’t surprising. Her father, Jim Ferree, is Craig's city manager.

In recent months, though, her attitude has changed.

Politics is no longer a wearisome subject to her. Instead, it intrigues her, and she's ready to get involved in the political process.

Education, it turns out, was the main reason for this 180-degree shift.

"I really never knew that politics had anything to do with the education system," Nicole said.

Now that she knows, however, she's determined to make her voice heard.

She applied for and won an at-large seat on the Colorado Youth Advisory Council. The board is made of students from across the state who advise legislators on policies affecting children and teens. The first of four meetings in her one-year term begins April 15.

Nicole's burgeoning resume includes similar achievements.

She sits on the Colorado Meth Project's teen advisory council and plans to run for the chairperson's position in the 2012-13 school year.

In November, she organized the "Not Even Once" carnival, an event designed to prevent methamphetamine use, at the Boys & Girls Club of Craig.

As MCHS Student Council secretary, Nicole is also a leader on a more local level.

For someone who once detested politics, her life is about as political as a 16-year-old's can be.

She's thinking seriously about becoming a legislative aid at some point, she said.

Her father, though, believes she has time to consider her options.

"It wouldn't bother me at all if that's what she wants to do," Jim said, "but she's young and she has a lot of education ahead of her, so I wouldn't be surprised if she changed her goals a lot between now and when she graduates from college."

Regardless of what path Nicole chooses, she's certain her leadership experience won't be wasted.

"Even if I don't go into the government part of things, it's helped me be a more competent person and to … not be scared to express what I think about things," she said. "…It's made me a … more confident person."

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