More voices always begin with your own

More voices always begin with your own

We created the Explore Academy to help teenagers change the world, beginning with their community. One alum from 2020 is already making good on the promise. Audrey Michael is a senior at Traverse City West Senior High and is the first student to serve on a local government board in northern Michigan.

“I’m the student liaison, an official of the board. I just don’t have voting rights,” said Audrey about her new role with Traverse City’s Downtown Development Board. “I am allowed to contribute to debates, and I’m in closed-door meetings.”

Audrey will serve a one-year term as a student liaison through a partnership with Government for Tomorrow, a nonprofit with a mission to place more students in meaningful roles in local government. “This position is one of Government for Tomorrow’s biggest accomplishments, and we couldn’t be prouder of the student we recommended to fill the spot,” the organization said in a Facebook post about Audrey’s new position.

Government for Tomorrow selected Audrey from a pool of over two dozen fellow students who applied. She thinks she stood out because of her involvement in local theatre and extracurricular activities, and her enthusiasm for public engagement and interest in local politics. She credits the Explore Academy for introducing her to the role that local boards and representatives play and the positive change that they can make.

“I want to encourage youth involvement because we have a lot of tourist, art, and outdoor attractions, but still, I don’t think there are a lot of things focused on kids or teens,” said Audrey. “So encouraging changes that will positively impact people of my age group. The more people involved, the more likely decisions will fit into what people want.”

Audrey encourages the current students in the Explore Academy to seize the opportunity. “Get the most out of it that you can,” she said. She highlighted the new ideas, people, and creative ways to see the community introduced in Explore Academy as opportunities to get involved. “Take advantage of those opportunities.”

Certainly, Audrey is taking full advantage of her experiences. In addition to serving on the DDA board, she’s active in local theatre and music and is in the process of compiling her 17 years into her college applications.

Here at Team Orange, we appreciate her energy, dedication, and willingness to represent something bigger than herself. We couldn’t be more proud of her and look forward to working with her to see more voices involved in making lasting change.



We don’t spam, and we don’t share your contact info. However, we get excited about the fantastic people, places, and activities in Northern Michigan.

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.