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Satterlee appointed as director of Boys State

By MEGHAN BRADBURY - | Jul 15, 2021

Andrew Satterlee (right) being introduced as Director of Florida American Legion Boys State by outgoing Director Forrest D. Boone. June 25, 2021 at the Donald L. Tucker Civic Center in Tallahassee. PHOTO PROVIDED

A Cape Coral resident, who first became involved in the Florida American Legion Boys State in 1995, was recently appointed as the director of the boys youth leadership program’s board of directors.

“It’s a great honor,” Director Andrew Satterlee said. “The teaching of civic responsibility and duty is always important to show the upcoming generations. You learn by doing, and it is the perfect slogan for Boys State.”

Satterlee is the 17th individual since 1940 to become the director, giving him the responsibility of overseeing the direction of the program, fundraising, staff development and coordination with the Florida American Legion Department of Florida and its more than 300 posts, with a team of senior leaders.

“As a leadership program, Boys State has found success because we have the right individuals guiding the program through both periods of challenge and opportunity,” said Bob Knight, member of Florida American Legion Boys State Board of Directors, and assistant director for the 78th Session, in a prepared statement. “We are extremely excited to have Andrew on board as director, and are looking forward to a term bolstered upon his years of experience as a counselor and member of the leadership team.”

Satterlee said he was selected to attend Boys State when he was going into his senior year at Cape Coral High School in 1995. The following year he became a counselor, something that he continued for 26 years.

The program includes judicial, legislation, executive and the fourth branch, the media.

“We are one of the few Boys Sate that has a hard core media presence,” he said, adding that one member of the delegation is the press core and they have a newspaper every day and a newscast that is produced. “They will do virtual social media that we are trying to set up now.”

The Boys State program is designed to teach local, county and state government. The participants are placed in one of 16 cities in a mythical 51st state they create. Satterlee said that two cities makes a county.

As a counselor, Satterlee said once a city has begun he teaches the participants about city government, how to speak, present ideas and how to run elections. From there a city government is formed and such positions as the mayor are chosen.

“One of my delegates in my city was Ryan Lamb. He got the fire chief in my little city. Now he’s the fire chief in Cape Coral,” Satterlee said, which is another reason he enjoyed being a counselor because he is “dealing with the actual future leaders of the state and nation.”

The students arrive at the capital between 5:30 and 6 a.m. and head to their dorms. Two days later they are standing on the floor of the House of Representatives giving a passionate speech next to a House of Representative member.

“That is amazing to see that,” Satterlee said.

Cape Coral Fire Department Chief Ryan Lamb attended Boys State the summer before his senior year of high school in 2002.

“You get selected and get bused to the state Capitol in Tallahassee. There are different cities. You have elected people. I was the fire chief in our town, ironically. At state level I got voted in as a state rep. You go through some mock sessions of the legislature. I think at the end we passed a bill about manatee safety. The deal was if it makes it through, one of the House members will sponsor it,” Lamb said. “It was a good experience. You learn a lot about local and state government through the process.”

As the fire chief he continues to use some of that knowledge from Boys State as he spends a lot more time looking at state laws and how bills are created and passed, as well as the efforts that go behind them.

“A lot of those things I learned I am still paying attention to today,” Lamb said.

Years later, while Lamb was on call he remembered seeing Satterlee and recalling he knew him from somewhere.

“I am very happy to see Satterlee be so involved,” Lamb said, adding that he is making a “difference for our community and continues to keep democracy in our system and our cities and state.”

Satterlee said they are one of the few programs nationwide that uses the Capitol building.

“It’s eye-opening to walk into the floor of the House of Representatives and have the lead Democrat debating legislation with each delegate,” he said, or “sitting in the actual chairs of the Florida Supreme Court and have the marshall of the Florida Supreme Court talking with you and debating cases.”

The reason he remained involved is the ability to give back.

“The American Legion are the ones that put this program on. They are the ones taking an active role in the future by putting on this program,” he said. “It doesn’t cost them (delegates) a dime.”

Satterlee said his family has a background in the military as his father and stepfather served, and his brother is still serving. He said it only made sense to give back after the American Legion provided him with the chance to go to Boys State.

Satterlee wanted “to be involved in the American Legion and represent the program. Everyone who goes to the program wants to be there. Everyone is equal (delegates). We give them the tools to be able to create the 51st state and they run it.”

As the director, Satterlee has a few areas he would like to tackle to continue to make improvements for the program. One of those areas is working with the American Legion, as some are having difficulties raising money, $450 per delegate, to send to Boys State.

“The individual American Legion posts raise their own money. They interview delegates and send them themselves,” he explained, adding that the price for food and lodging has increased. “That sometimes prices out some of the posts.”

In addition, with COVID-19 pandemics some of the posts had to shut down and had no income coming in. Satterlee explained that the previous director, Forrest Boone, had to make the difficult decision to cancel Boys State last year for only the second time since World War II.

By closing that down, he said an entire soon-to-be senior class did not have the ability to experience Boys State and those connections.

Boys State was restarted with only 352 delegates compared to a total of 530 they have in a typical year.

“My challenge is to rebuild that connection to see if I can assist with the American Legion post to bring delegates back, or work with legislature to get funding for this type of program,” he said.

Some of the long term goals include looking into other venues, and reach out to Girls State, which is a program led by the American Legion Auxiliary, to see if they could provide assistance.

From June 19-June 25, 2022, the 78th session of Boys State will occur, with more than 500 delegates from across Florida being supported by more than 50 counselors and staff.

In addition to being involved with Boys State, Satterlee is entering his 21st year working for the Cape Coral Police Department where he is currently assigned to the Traffic Homicide Investigation Unit.

“I did my first two years as a patrol officer, 16 years with the DUI and traffic homicide unit. Two more years on patrol and then I came back to the unit over eight months ago,” he said.

Satterlee attended the University of Tampa where he studied criminal justice. After doing a ride along with the Hillsborough Sheriff’s Department and the Cape Coral Police Department he found his niche with traffic.