Every spring, sixth graders from Mankato board busses for an exciting field trip to St. Paul. There, they visit the Capitol and meet with their legislators to learn about civics first hand. Hearing the trip may have to be canceled this year because a thief stole $2,300 raised to support the visit, Governor Dayton decided to bring government to Mankato. He visited the students at Franklin and Garfield Elementary Schools, speaking about his role in government before taking questions from the students.
When they visit St. Paul, the students usually tour the Capitol Rotunda, the Governor’s Office, and the Supreme Court before meeting with their legislators. Afterwards, they also visit the Science Museum and Omnitheater, and finally end their day at historic Fort Snelling. For 34 years, the Mankato Sertoma Club has helped make this trip possible by raising funds to support the students. They’re still working hard to make sure the trip happens, but Governor Dayton wanted to be certain these students wouldn’t miss an opportunity to learn about their state government.
When he arrived at the school, Governor Dayton presented a $150 check from Rep. Terry Morrow of St. Peter. He took several questions from students, including one who asked about the Governor’s ability to issue pardons. “You don’t need one yourself, do you?” Governor Dayton asked, before explaining that the Governor in Minnesota cannot issue pardons himself. Later Dayton discussed the importance of democracy and the history of America’s own path to it. When asked if there was any place he couldn’t go in the capitol building, Dayton said he couldn’t go onto the floor of the house or senate without being invited. He didn’t think anywhere else was restricted—“well, the women’s restrooms are off limits” he joked.
Organizers are hopeful that the trip can still happen, with help fundraising from the Mankato Serotoma Club. Even if it can’t, Governor Dayton made sure these students got to experience the government in person. It’s a big day for the sixth graders. As Elizabeth Zarn, the teacher who organizes the trip put it, “We spend the year teaching kids about Minnesota and government, so it’s nice to literally get a hands-on look. I went myself as a sixth-grader. It’s kind of a big trip because you get to go to the Twin Cities.”