Post 298 in Marion, Iowa, has found a variety of avenues for community outreach; one of them is a renewed commitment to the Oratorical Contest.
Post 298, like other Hawkeye State posts, has struggled over the years to find contestants, says Mary Clapp, Children & Youth chairman. “Upon talking with teachers and students, we were told the best way to improve participation at the local level was to increase the award amounts,” Clapp said. School officials told them the amount of time it took to write speeches was problematic for students with after-school commitments. Post 298 decided to raise the award from $100, $50 and $25 to $500, $200 and $150.
Mary and her husband Karl, Post 298’s commander, were the organizers of the Second District contest in Iowa at the beginning of 2009. The post had one contestant, whose second-place district finish earned him a $500 scholarship for college.
Commitment to Children & Youth activities and Americanism projects are the order of the day for Post 298. Not only are post officials increasing publicity and their commitment to the Oratorical Contest, they also are involved with Boys State, the Flag Essay Contest and other scholarship programs.
Post 298’s involvement in the Oratorical Contest has spread to other posts across the state. “The posts are really getting out there and promoting the contest and their winners,” said Kathy Nees, Department of Iowa program director.
Legionnaire Gerry Wegmann ran Post 298’s local contest and is committed to improving it through school visits. “I do plan on working toward getting myself into the classrooms more. Persistence will pay dividends,” Wegmann said.
Without a doubt, Post 298 will continue its commitment to the Oratorical Contest and other community outreach programs to help spread word of their successes to other Iowa posts.