Leaders are developed by doing, and the Wisconsin Youth in Government program seeks to foster the next generation of thoughtful, committed, and active citizens. This program is open to all students in grades 7-12 and engages hundreds of students from across the state each year. Individual delegations meet starting in the fall and the program culminates with a weekend-long trip to the state capitol in Madison for our Model Government session. For interested 6th graders, we also offer a YIG Apprentice program, which offers an overview of the full program and a one-day conference option in Madison in March.
What is YIG?
The Wisconsin YMCA Youth in Government (YIG) program is a statewide and nationwide program that engages hundreds of Wisconsin students every year. The program is available to all students in grades 7-12 and aims to enable young people to prepare for leadership through participatory training in the theory and practice of determining public policy.
How does it work?
In Wisconsin, students are broken up into delegations based on location. Here in the Chippewa Valley, we have two delegations: Eau Claire and Chippewa. Each delegation is headed up by at least one adult advisor.
Membership in YIG requires that students attend weekly meetings at the YMCA and choose a program area that they would like to participate in - legislature, judicial, or press corps. A brief description of each of these branches can be found below. Our Sunday meetings are used to bring our whole delegation together to get to know each other and discuss items such as fundraising, delegation orientation, officer and committee nominations, and more, as well as work on our bills and briefs.
Do we really get to go to Madison for a weekend?
This program includes two field trips where delegates from across the state will come together. In January, we attend a Pre-Gov session (typically held in Wausau or Stevens Point) where bills are ranked and leaders voted into office. In March, we travel to the state capitol in Madison where delegates will fully participate in the democratic process, debating and voting on bills and briefs, right in the seats where this is done every day by our state representatives! Don't worry...there's also time for dining and shopping on State Street, as well as a Governor's Ball dance and nightly entertainment.
Does it cost anything?
There are fees associated with this program, which are used to pay for travel and accommodations for the conferences, as well as for fees incurred through the state office to support the conference. There are student-led fundraising opportunities available throughout the year as well as financial assistance through the Eau Claire YMCA to help defray some of these costs. This truly is a wonderful program and we will not turn anyone away due to an inability to pay!
So what would I be doing?
The first step after registering for Youth in Government is to pick a program area. Available program areas are described below:
Students in these groups will discuss what they see as a problem or barrier in today's society (for either adults or kids their own age) and write a bill that will be debated and voted on at the Model Government assembly in Madison. Legislative students have three program area options: Harvey Assembly, Nelson Assembly, and Senate.
Supreme Court delegates are each assigned a court case as well as their position (appellant or respondent) and are asked to research and write a brief arguing for their client. After presenting their specific case, these delegates are also rotated through the bench to serve as justices on other cases.
The Press Corps is made up of a small, dedicated group of students who interview candidates and delegates, write stories for a daily newsletter, and create online multimedia content (YouTube videos, Twitter feeds, maintain a blog, etc.) throughout Pre-Gov and Model Gov. These students get the chance to visit all the different program areas in order to write their pieces.
Pre-Government Assembly | Sunday, January 26, Wausau
Model Government Conference | March 13-15, Madison
Would you like more information, to get signed up, or to get Youth in Government started at your school or in your community?
Contact Jen Zwicky, Delegation Advisor