Rising Saline High School senior Robbie Felton got a taste of politics this summer, and he liked it.
Felton attended Boys State, an educational program sponsored by the American Legion departments across the country to help young men learn about government and how it works.
Well, saying Felton attended Boys State is like saying Ussain Bolt ran in the Olympics. When the program convened June 19 at Northwood University in Midland, Felton was elected Governor.
Felton is no stranger to success. He is the starting cornerback for the Saline football team and is an elite sprinter whose track and field season was cut short by injury. He's also an ace in the classroom.
We asked Robbie to share his thoughts about Boys State.
Tell me how you were elected governor?
I ran a tough campaign against a very qualified and intelligent opponent, but in the end it came down to who could relate better to the voters and gain trust with their peers.
What were some of the key issues you worked on?
For the most part, my time was spent balancing the budget with my economic advisers. Other key issues included infrastructure problems and funding shortages for the cities within the state.
Who else from Saline High School was there? Did any of them have a high office?
I appointed Max Ellsworth to be my Chief of Staff, Mitchell Gasche to be my Secretary of the Department of Transportation and Housing, Riley Bonifer to be my Secretary of the Department of Health and Welfare, Connor Hibbard to be my Chief of Security, and Evan Koerschner to be on the State School Board. Connor Carlson was elected to be the the majority leader in the senate and Ethan Baker was a Senator. Also in attendance were Aidan Carichner, Luke Humphrey, and Gabe Walder.
What did you learn from the experience?
Boys’ State was intense with a lot of high pressure and very stressful situations. This taught me to stay composed under pressure and to handle fierce criticism from my opposition. I learned how to be a leader in real-life working scenarios and manage many people performing many tasks.
Why did you want to attend?
I have an interest in civic leadership and I had heard that Boys’ State puts leadership abilities to the test. I was very excited for the challenge it presented.
Can you see yourself running for office one day?
Yes, I could see myself running for public office one day. I highly value taking initiative and helping others. Being in office would give me the opportunity to do this on a larger scale.
You told me you were being recruited by Ivy League schools. Is that the way you want to go?
Throughout my life I have striven to work at my maximum potential in school and in athletics. So, attending an Ivy League school has been quite a dream of mine since I was young. Last week, I was invited on a football recruiting visit at Dartmouth and was very impressed by the school.
What do you think you'll want to study?
I would like study pre-med, so that I can become a geriatric physician.
Would "The Governor" be a bad nickname for you? Robbie "The Governor" Felton vetoes that QB's attempted pass.
“The Governor” has a nice authoritative connotation, however I feel like a nickname may distract from my play on-field. Staying humble is something I value and a cool nickname like that may seem a little flashy. Thanks for the idea though!