HAZARD, Ky. (WYMT) - Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes led a roundtable discussion Wednesday at Hazard Community and Technical College. It was part of the Appalachian Teaching and Leadership Network "Jobs and Education Summit."
Secretary Grimes says Kentucky's level of civic engagement is great in a number of ways, but lags behind in other areas.
"In terms of volunteerism, giving of your time and your treasures, we are well below the national average, and in terms of group membership we rate in the bottom quarter," she said.
Grimes says the roundtables are designed to find ways to help people get more engaged, both politically and in their communities.
"Our hope is that we can reverse the decline in the civic health that we see in the report that my office launched at the beginning of 2012."
Alongside the roundtable, winners from six area school districts displayed ideas for their communities in the Students Transforming Appalachia with Real Solutions, Or STARS, competition.
"They've developed their plans on how to raise education levels, so the Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes will be honoring these students in the STARS competition," said Ron Daley, Dean of Administrative Services at HCTC.
Secretary Grimes says she is encouraged by what she sees, both in these young people and in those concerned about Eastern Kentucky.
"The spirit is alive and very contagious to keep people engaged, and one of the phrases that was used by our participants was "no excuses" and we really have to work to take care of our own house," Grimes said.
And if that spirit spreads to the rest of the Commonwealth, Grimes predicts the downward trend in civic participation would dramatically reverse.
State Senator Brandon Smith was presented with the Governor Paul Patton Educational Advocacy Award during Wednesday's summit.