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Mary Ellbogen Garland Recognized For Making Democracy Work

Tennessee Watson
Wyoming Public Radio

Mary Ellbogen Garland is this year's recipient of the "Making Democracy Work" award. The League of Women Voters of Wyoming gives the annual award to recognize contributions to the vitality of the state's communities.

As president of the board for the John P. Ellbogen Foundation, Garland has supported civics education in Wyoming. She said the award was a surprise given the number of people who are doing work to benefit democracy.

"But with the Ellbogen Foundation we've had a lot of opportunity to provide pretty significant support for civics education primarily in the k thru 12 school system," said Garland. "So I can connect the dots that way."

Garland has been a champion of "We The People." The program teaches Wyoming students the history and principles of U.S. democracy, and prepares them to compete nationally to test their understanding of civics.

Matt Strannigan, state coordinator for the program, explained at the awards ceremony that Garland stepped in to ensure "We The People" continued in Wyoming when federal funding for the program was cut 10 years ago.

"I can't tell you the number of teachers and students that the Ellbogen Foundation [has] reached," said Strannigan.

Strannigan also highlighted how the Ellbogen Foundation supports professional development for civics teachers.

Tennessee -- despite what the name might make you think -- was born and raised in the Northeast. She most recently called Vermont home. For the last 15 years she's been making radio -- as a youth radio educator, documentary producer, and now reporter. Her work has aired on Reveal, The Heart, LatinoUSA, Across Women's Lives from PRI, and American RadioWorks. One of her ongoing creative projects is co-producing Wage/Working (a jukebox-based oral history project about workers and income inequality). When she's not reporting, Tennessee likes to go on exploratory running adventures with her mutt Murray.
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