JAG Legislative Day - Governor Pillen Shares Guidance

On March 28, nearly 100 middle school students from JAG Nebraska programs across the state visited the Nebraska Capitol for Legislative Day.  Legislative Day is a day of awareness that gives students the opportunity to meet with legislators and share the value of supporting programs like JAG. Students had the opportunity to observe a session in the legislative chamber, engage in discussions with their local senators and were recognized on the floor of the legislature by Senator Mike McDonnell. Additionally, the students had a very special visit with Nebraska Governor Jim Pillen, where he shared some of his guiding principles with students.

The Gift of First Impressions

The first thing Governor Pilled touched on was the importance of first impressions. “You never know when you’re going to make a first impression,” he said. “So how we carry ourselves. What kind of attitude we have has an incredible impact on the gift of a first impression.” He reminded the students they’re going to meet new people every single day and then continued, “You’re going to meet people today that you’ve never seen before.  What’s each person going to walk away and say when they think of you?”

Check the Mirror

“This is something really important that we should have a conversation about. Who knows if we’re doing our best? Only ourselves. I call it the mirror.” Governor Pillen went on to share experiences from his childhood and encouraged students to have a resilient mindset and optimism that they can overcome any challenge.

Dream Big

Governor Pillen also stated the importance of dreams. “Having dreams is really a big deal. And it’s okay if you don’t have one today, but here’s where a dream needs to be,” he said.  “It needs to be what you love doing and then you can have an incredible career. If you have great dreams, I call it the North Star. It really helps us make sure we do our best every day.”

Governor Pillen then shared his childhood dreams of becoming a veterinarian and a football player. Despite the opportunity to pursue both at the University of Nebraska – Lincoln, a disappointing test result in his freshman biology class led to doubts raised by his advisor, Dr. Grace. Dr. Grace suggested he prioritize one dream over the other. However, Pillen refused to let skepticism deter him and made a firm commitment to his aspirations. He emphasized to students the importance of staying true to their dreams, regardless of external skepticism, highlighting that genuine dreams are personal and resilient.

“You can be anything you want to be. Not a shadow of a doubt. Believe in yourself.”


Additionally, Governor Pillen spoke to the students about communication. “Another thing I want you all to think about is the 7/38/55 rule. It’s really important and it goes back to the gift of first impressions.”

Governor Pillen proceeded to share that in communication, only 7% of the message is conveyed through words, making the language used relatively unimportant. The tone of voice accounts for 38%, while body language makes up the remaining 55% of the message. Thus, a significant 93% of communication is conveyed through emotion and body language. Encouraging everyone to reflect on this breakdown, Governor Pillen suggested students utilize the 7/38/55 rule to enhance connections with the community, friends and family. He advocated for expressing care and understanding by engaging in face-to-face conversations rather than relying solely on texting. He said this approach fosters stronger relationships and deeper comprehension of one another.

Importance of JAG Nebraska

Finally, Governor Pillen spoke to the students about the importance of JAG Nebraska. He expressed enthusiasm about the opportunities provided by the JAG program, highlighting its potential to shape the future of Nebraska and its communities. He encouraged students to maintain an open mind, explore various opportunities and commit to giving their best effort consistently. Governor Pillen concluded by saying, “We want great careers for you. My view is a job is work. We want to find great careers for you, so you never work a day in your life.”


About JAG Nebraska

JAG Nebraska is a program dedicated to empowering students with personal and professional development training and support to succeed in middle and high school, higher education, the workplace and beyond. With its personal attention, hands-on instruction and exposure to varied career fields and employers, JAG students master up to 87 core competencies – including communications skills, critical thinking, leadership development and key workplace practices – all of which have been identified by business and industry as essential to successful employment and positive professional outcomes.

To learn more about JAG Nebraska, visit JAGNebraska.org.