SSYAC Teen Frequently Asked Questions


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Smithsonian Secretary’s Youth Advisory Council
Teen Frequently Asked Questions

What are the benefits of participating in the SSYAC?

Service in the SSYAC is a unique opportunity for teens, ages 16-18 to influence the Smithsonian’s impact locally and nationally. Members of the SSYAC discuss their ideas and concerns regarding various issues to the Smithsonian
Secretary. In doing so, members gain valuable experience, as well as personal and professional skills as they engage in:

  • Dialogue with the Smithsonian Secretary
  • Collaboration with other teens
  • Special tours at Smithsonian museums
  • Meetings designed to enhance leadership, professional development, and life skills.
  • Potentially fulfill school-required Community Service Hours
  • Representative of Affiliate’s teen voice
  • Certificate of Recognition and/or letter from the Smithsonian Secretary
  • Inclusion of views and opinions shared in a final report

What is the time commitment for members of the SSYAC?

About 20 hours total. Teens selected to serve on the SSYAC commit to successfully completing the program. A term on the Council will last from September 2017—April 2018 (with the winter and summer off). During a term, members are required to attend four meetings lasting two hours each. In addition, between meetings, members complete assignments—they may be asked to present them during a future session or may be shared with
Smithsonian leadership and included in the final annual report. Members serve for one term, with the option to renew for a second term if both the teen and Smithsonian and/or Affiliate agree to do so, and providing a member’s
age has not exceeded 18 and has not graduated high school. Teens may not serve more than two consecutive terms. There may be occasional, optional extra activities that SSYAC members are invited to join.

Are members of the SSYAC paid?

No. Members of the SSYAC are volunteers during a term of office. Therefore, they are not paid. However, local members may request reimbursement for public transportation costs (i.e. metro and bus fare) by alerting the program manager, who will be discrete about any requests; finances should not be a barrier to participating in the SSYAC program. In many instances, schools prohibit students who receive community service hours from receiving
payments for their participation.

Do I need to know a lot about the Smithsonian Institution in order to become a member of the SSYAC?

Not at all. Teens selected to serve on the SSYAC do not need to be experts on the Smithsonian Institution. However, teens do need to have an interest in learning more about the Smithsonian and its Affiliates. After serving a term on the SSYAC, we hope that teens increase their knowledge about the Smithsonian and its Affiliates.

Where can I find out more information about the Smithsonian Institution?

There are many sources of information about the Smithsonian Institution, including its main website, which hosts information about current activities, as well as our priorities, vision, and mission and strategic plans.

Where can I find out about the Smithsonian Secretary?

Dr. David J. Skorton is the 13th Secretary of the Smithsonian. He assumed his position July 1, 2015. Dr. Skorton oversees 19 museums and galleries, 20 libraries, the National Zoo and 14 education and research centers, including
the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory, the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute and the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center. He is responsible for an annual budget of $1.3 billion, 6,500 employees and
12,000+ volunteers. Read more about Dr. Skorton. He is also on Twitter @DavidJSkorton.