20 Under 40: Meghan Lukens is improving civic engagement through education
Steamboat Springs High School social studies teacher Meghan Lukens has a Franklin Delano Roosevelt quote hanging in her classroom: “Democracy cannot succeed unless those who express their choice are prepared to choose wisely. The real safeguard of democracy, therefore, is education.”
Lukens, who joined the SSHS staff in 2021, has been teaching for seven years and got into the profession to improve the Unites States’ democracy.
“I found that was one way I could support kids in becoming more politically and civically engaged,” said the 29-year-old. “And therefore, support the success of our democracy.”
Wanting to improve voter turnout in the 18-25 age group, Lukens strives to educate her students on how the government works and how they can be involved.
She gets students involved by having them discuss current events and call their representative to relay how many people in the class support a certain measure and how many do not.
“I hate using the cliche, ‘wise beyond her years’, but she just so is that and it stands out,” said former SSHS teacher Jenny Shea. “I think because I’ve known her now for 12 years … seeing her grow into an adult and a professional has been really special after knowing her for that long.”
Shea taught Lukens creative writing in high school and worked alongside her during the 2021-22 school year. She said Lukens is an excellent listener and has a grace about her that makes her a great coworker.
While encouraging her students to do so, Lukens got more involved in local politics. She’s always been involved at a base level, growing up educated about local issues with her mom being a journalist, registering to vote when she turned 18, volunteering for campaigns, and giving speeches in college about the importance of registering to vote. Still, she increased her time volunteering and participated in get-out-to-vote efforts.
What: 2022 20 Under 40 Celebration
When: 5 p.m., Thursday, Sept. 1
Where: Snow Bowl Steamboat, 2090 Snow Bowl Plaza
At the same time, she was pursuing a Masters degree in leadership and educational organizations with a principal licensure, with an emphasis on education policy.
“That’s when I realized how crazy our system is for school funding in the state of Colorado,” said the University of Colorado Boulder graduate. “I started really doing a deep dive into our school funding formula and realizing it is less than effective and has a lot of room for growth.”
With that, a seed was planted. Lukens was aggravated, but also inspired to take her concerns to the state legislature. She started looking into running for office. She launched her campaign in October 2021, and is the Democratic candidate for District 26 in the Colorado State House of Representatives in the November 2022 election.
As part of her campaign, Lukens’ involvement in the community has skyrocketed, not only within the Yampa Valley, but Northwest Colorado.
She’s been traveling more, but is still seemingly everywhere in Steamboat. She is part of the Steamboat Springs Education Association and is part of the Young Professional’s Network and is captain of her B league hockey team.
Shelby Reardon is the assistant editor at the Steamboat Pilot & Today. To reach her, call 970-871-4253, email sreardon@SteamboatPilot.com or follow her on Twitter @ByShelbyReardon.
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