Faces

Seeds Of Political Engagement? They're Planted Early

For some, it was parents or grandparents. For others, it was school elections, field trips to Washington, D.C. or programs like Girls State. Those were the answers we got recently when we asked NPR listeners to share photos and to tell us: who or what got you interested or involved in politics?

We got dozens of responses, and these are some of our favorites, complete with '80s hair and antique campaign buttons.

Chelsea Kiene posted two photos on Instagram. The first is her being sworn into Weston Elementary School's student council by, Randy Gardner — who's now an Ohio state senator.

Chelsea Kiene writes: Here is the first trace of photographic evidence: my first inauguration, circa 1996 (I was sworn into Weston Elementary School's student council by now Ohio State Senator Randy Gardner).

hide captionChelsea Kiene writes: Here is the first trace of photographic evidence: my first inauguration, circa 1996 (I was sworn into Weston Elementary School's student council by now Ohio State Senator Randy Gardner).

@chelseakiene via Instagram

"My interest and involvement in politics is so deeply rooted that I honestly cannot trace it back to one source (policy debates were commonplace at the dinner table and in my social circles)," writes Kiene.

Chelsea Kiene writes: Dug this out of the Kiene archives. Grandpa and Grandma Kiene with President Nixon. Grandma is undeniably fan-girling in this shot.

hide captionChelsea Kiene writes: Dug this out of the Kiene archives. Grandpa and Grandma Kiene with President Nixon. Grandma is undeniably fan-girling in this shot.

@chelseakiene via Instagram

And, it turns out, political enthusiasm goes back generations in her family.

This photo is of her grandparents with President Nixon. "Grandma is undeniably fan-girling in this shot," she writes. "Apparently the apple fell only a short distance from the tree."

A Few Of Our Other Favorites

  • Desiree Kiesel writes:

    #shevotes I got involved in politics my junior year when I participated in Girls State, and was elected to represent Oregon at Girls Nation. We got an inside look at running the Senate, tons of history on proper flag care, and got to meet the President Clinton. I left feeling empowered, and have been active ever since.

  • Darrin Grinder writes:

    #shevotes 1987, and I was a page in the Idaho State Senate for part of my senior year in high school. I found out that I didn't want to be a politician, but I also found that I could be friends with folks from different ideological backgrounds. One of the pages was the first real Democrat my age I'd ever met (and not long after that I became one myself). In the back is then Lt. Gov. Butch Otter, now governor of Idaho.

  • Meredith Jones writes:

    While we may sometimes lean in politically opposite directions, my mom has always stressed the importance of being an involved citizen. She'd also want me to add that she was not old enough (or even alive) to vote for Wendell Wilkie. #shevotes

  • @chelseylenee writes:

    Learning about the Women's Suffrage Movement at the 2014 Florida History Fair. #FHF2014 #floridahistoryfair #girlpower #NHD2014 #shevotes @npr @museumflhistory

  • Grace Curtis writes:

    #npr #shevotes @nprpolitics high school civics teacher turned me on to politics. One of the #bestteachers ever! #thankyou Mr. Craycraft. #powerofateacher

  • @carolinesdreamvt writes:

    #shevotes #NPR A 2010 trip to Washington on top of serving on several local committees made me wonder if I had a shot at running for my local Selectboard. When a member left unexpectedly, I applied to fill the remainder of their term and was appointed by the board. Then I ran for a full 3 year term six months later with a decisive win. It's lot of work but it's great to be so involved in my community of Middlebury, VT!

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