At a time when many people his age are worrying about the next algebra test or trying to line up a prom date, Jacob Mayer spends his weekdays making sure Democrats in the Iowa House of Representatives get all the information they need.
The 17-year-old Mayer, a Lake City resident, is a page in the Iowa Legislature. But unlike many of the other pages who run errands and do odd jobs in the House and Senate chambers, he works in the office of the House Democratic caucus.
He does paper work and other chores there, plus he gets assigned a major project to complete every day. Recently, he recalled, he prepared maps for every Democratic representative showing the school districts in the areas they serve.
''I believe my job is very interesting,'' he said. ''I love every minute about it.''
''You really learn about the legislative process much more than in government class,'' he added.
Working as a page is not Mayer's first experience with legislation or the state Capitol.
He was previously a member of the Iowa Youth Advisory Council, a group of 21 students that advises the governor and Legislature on issues that affect young people. Mayer said the group tells the elected officials what laws it believes should be passed or not passed because of their impact on youths.
Being a member of that council brought him to the Capitol once a month last year.
Mayer was also a member of the Iowa Youth Congress, which he said is very similar to the Youth Advisory Council.
The senior at South Central Calhoun High School applied for a page job last fall. He was then interviewed by the House staff, the Legislative Services Agency and the Senate staff.
He was hired as a House page, and then was interviewed by the Democratic caucus staff.
Mayer began his page responsibilities on Jan. 14, the first day of the legislative session.
His workdays begin at 8 a.m., which is half an hour before the House begins its daily business. So far, he's been able to leave the Capitol between 4:30 and 5 p.m., but he said he expects his workdays will get longer as more and more bills are debated by the full House.
During the week, he lives in a Des Moines apartment.
He has more than 20 credits accumulated already, so he has just one online English course to complete in order to graduate this spring.
Back home, Mayer volunteers with the Lake City Ambulance Service. He earned his certification as an emergency medical technician in October.
He began his community involvement about two years ago as the youth representative to the Lake City Betterment Association.