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Banner Photo: Joe Black with Lt. Govenor Brad Little, President Duane Nellis and Joe Vandal.
Contact & Location
Political Science Department
Administration Bldg. #205
PHONE: (208) 885-6328
FAX: (208) 885-5102
Political Science Department
c/o University of Idaho
875 Perimeter Drive MS 5102
Moscow, ID 83844-3165
The James A. and Louise McClure
Center for Public Policy Research
A Capitol Experience: Meet Joe Black
From a graduating class of 27 students in Bruneau, Idaho, to treading the state capitol steps lobbying for student interests and rights, Joe Black has his future in his sights.
Each year, a student is selected to work with the University’s legislative liaison in Boise.
This year, Black, a public relations and political science senior, spent the legislative session in the state’s capital, interning as a registered lobbyist and taking a full course load online.
“It was such an invaluable experience: it was absolutely 100 percent worth it,” says Black. “I learned classic lessons that were translated into real life right away, it was do or fail.”
Black helped keep students informed about what was going on at the state legislature and was the voice for students through his work in Boise. This year, he was a voice for students during the discussion about firearms on campus.
“I never thought when I was going into this that I was going to go up against the National Rifle Association – and win,” says Black.
Stephen Parrot, president of ASUI, and Black were in lock-step that opposing the proposed campus firearms legislation was the right thing to do. Black listened to everyone though, he felt that was important – that everyone had the opportunity to voice their opinion.
“Joe Black and Steven Parrot did an absolutely awesome job of representing student interests in the 2011 legislative session,” says Peterson. This was my 35th legislative session and my 19th for the university. During that time, I don’t think I’ve ever been more impressed with the pro-active efforts of the ASUI in the legislature.”
In addition, he organized the Legislative Day for lawmakers at the state capitol. He helped coordinate the efforts of 40 students who came down for the day to talk with their legislators and set up the displays from each of the colleges. About 80 percent of state legislators attended the program, a larger-than-usual number, and the day was proclaimed University of Idaho Education Day by the governor.
He was also able to start a letter writing campaign in Moscow from Boise. Black created postcards for students to sign and return to their legislators about issues that concern University students, and much of the focus was how a decrease in state funding would impact students. He says the success of the postcards was naming the issue and backing up their arguments with facts. While he had a goal of 700 cards, Black hand delivered around 900 postcards in Boise.
“I was pleased to see we had so much participation, especially coordinating this from Boise,” says Black. “It was especially good to hear lawmakers talking about it at the capitol.”
As a 22-year-old lobbyist, Black says it was hard to be taken seriously sometimes —and he often felt intimidated by fellow lobbyists 20 years his senior -- but he learned a lot from the former Special Assistant to the President, Marty Peterson and other lobbyists in Boise. In addition, it was hard to get legislators’ attention, as they made assumptions about what he was going to say about education and the University.
“It taught me a lot about being resilient, knowing when to speak or just listen,” says Black. “I gained a lot of respect by taking the time to learn from the legislators and really using that student stance.”
That’s not to ay he didn’t learn to push his agenda, but he was able to do it in a way where they wanted to hear what he had to say, and after he gained their respect..
His ultimate lesson: beyond learning the role of a lobbyist, his career path will take him in a different direction. For Black, he’s hoping to pursue a career as a press secretary or media professional, maybe one day in the governor’s office, where he can reflect back on the days he was the student voice for the University of Idaho.