Idaho Falls teen takes symbolic reins of ITD
as part of annual Girls State program

In one week Jodee Whittier helped build a city, populate a county and organize a state government. She topped those achievements off by serving briefly as ITD Director.

So what does she do for an encore? Return to Idaho Falls and prepare for her senior year of high school.

Jodee was part of a contingent of about 260 girls who arrived from all corners of Idaho Sunday to participate in the annual Girls State experience sponsored by the American Legion Auxiliary. The one-week summer activity introduces seniors-in-waiting to basic principles of government.

As part of her requested duties to head the transportation department, Whittier tried the director’s chair for size, toured the materials lab and Human Resource Services offices at Headquarters and visited the Division of Aeronautics at the Boise Airport.

After state elections on Wednesday, she requested an assignment to ITD.

“I just thought it would be interesting, a cool way to learn about transportation because I know it is very important,” Jodee said. “I wanted to learn about it from the inside – about something that really affects me.”

The girls occupied dorm rooms at Northwest Nazarene University in Nampa; several dorm rooms combined to form a city based on the conference theme “everyday heroes.” Jodee and a couple of new friends formed the city “Super Sheilas.” Each floor joined to form a county (hers was Justice County) and all of the representatives combined to form a new state.

Her first assignment in developing the new state was serving as a judge on the elections board. She and other Girls State delegates learned parliamentary procedure, how bills are introduced and debated, how they become law and how state agencies like ITD function.

The weeklong experience culminated tonight (Friday) with a formal inauguration and reception. Jodee expected to board a charter bus late today and arrive back in Idaho Falls about 4 a.m. Saturday.

The second youngest of seven children, Jodee will serve as treasurer of Girls Foundation at Idaho Falls High School during her senior year. The organization engages in service activities and functions as part of student government and the student council. After graduation next spring, she hopes to attend college. Early considerations are Utah State University in Logan, Utah Valley College in Orem, or Boise State University with a possible major in nursing.

She is the daughter of Dee and Amy Whittier of Idaho Falls.

Published 6-24-2011