Idaho state Senator Kevin Cook, Republican of Idaho Falls, is a newly elected official to the Idaho legislature. He’s a software engineer for the Idaho National Laboratory, so jumping into politics has been interesting for him. 

“There is quite a learning curve involved with it. I’m busier than I’ve ever been,” he said in an interview with BYU-Idaho Radio. 

In his first year as a state senator, Cook has been placed on the state’s Joint Finance Appropriations Committee, which oversees state budgets and the Senate Education Committee. 

In the interview, Cook said it’s important now more than ever that children in Idaho get educated in STEM skills, as those jobs are slowly leaving Idaho. 

“When I was working at INL, we got most of our hires from outside the state. Why is that? It’s because we don’t have the people that are trained with those technical skills,” Cook said. 

Cook hopes to help schools gain access to more resources that lead to STEM skills being taught on a more regular basis. 

“We need to do a better job at giving our students the technical skills they need for that,” he said. 

He also believes that the most important group of people to learn from and to listen to are the teachers. 

[The Education Committee Members] have some great ideas back here, but what I think we have to remember is teachers are the professionals. They’re the ones educating the kids, they’re the ones in the trenches. So sometimes we forget ‘who are the real professionals here?’” Cook said.