Youth in Government Day Celebrates 35 Years of Preparing Today’s Youth for Tomorrow’s Leadership

In observance of National County Government Month Students will gain insight on transportation issues with a presentation from the Road Commission for Oakland County and learn about the political process.

image003On Monday, April 27, 2015, beginning at 8:30 a.m., the Oakland County Board of Commissioners will welcome 10th – 12th grade high school students from various communities including Auburn Hills, Rochester, and Rochester Hills. The event will begin in the Oakland County Board of Commissioners’ Auditorium, located at 1200 North Telegraph Road, in Pontiac, Michigan.

In recognition of National County Government Month, this year’s theme is “Counties Moving America Forward: The Keys are Transportation and Infrastructure” will be one of the issues featured as students will learn about Oakland County Government and the Road Commission for Oakland County (RCOC) will present a special presentation. The RCOC will present a special presentation regarding road issues and students will also view road equipment and trucks.

Students will meet the Oakland County Board of Commissioners, Oakland County Clerk/Register of Deeds Lisa Brown, Oakland County Sheriff Michael J. Bouchard, Oakland County Prosecutor Jessica Cooper, Oakland County Treasurer Andy Meisner and Water Resources Commissioner Jim Nash.  A representative, Oakland County Chief Information Officer/Deputy County Executive Phil Bertolini, from the County Executive’s Office will also participate.

A 6th Circuit Court Judge’s Panel will be presented with Chief Judge Nanci J. Grant leading the panel of judges consisting of Honorable Judges: Leo Bowman, Mary Ellen Brennan, Lisa Gorcyca, Lisa Langton, Daniel O’Brien, and Michael Warren.

Oakland County Commissioners participating in this year’s event includes Oakland County Board Chairperson Michael J. Gingell, Board Vice Chairperson Jeff Matis, and Commissioners, who will serve on the General Government Committee that students will observe consisting of General Government Committee Chairperson, Christine Long. Committee members participating includes: Shelley Goodman Taub, David Woodward, Bob Hoffman, Nancy Quarles, Wade Fleming, Marcia Gershenson, Board Vice Chairperson Jeff Matis and Robert Gosselin.

Commissioners Janet Jackson, Gary McGillivray, Philip J. Weipert, David Bowman, Eileen Kowall, John Scott and Michael Spisz will also be in attendance to welcome students and share the day.

According to the press release, students will learn first-hand about the political process as part of the 35-year tradition of youth leadership development.  They will be given information about volunteer, leadership and contest opportunities that are available. Volunteer opportunities that include working with the Oakland County Parks and Recreation, Oakland County Animal Control, Brooksie Way Half Marathon & 5K and the Adopt-A -Highway Cleanup program to name a few.

Oakland County youth contests include the Oakland County Clerk’s Office Art Contest and the Oakland County Treasurer’s Office Art Contest.

Youth leadership opportunities include Junior Leadership Oakland, Oakland County 4-H and the Oakland County Prosecutor’s Teen Court.

County officials provide insight on the nationally recognized Youth in Government Day hosted by the Oakland County Board of Commissioners stating the following:

“I am pleased that Oakland County has continued to invest in our youth over the past 35 years by hosting Youth in Government Day. This is a chance for youth to participate in County government, learn how government functions and meet many of their elected officials. I am looking forward to once again to hosting this event this year,” stated Oakland County Board Chairman Michael J. Gingell.

“Youth in Government Day is an educational opportunity like few others. For 35 years, this outstanding program has inspired our children to become future leaders by enabling them to interact with their elected officials,” stated Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson.

“Giving young people insight on the judicial branch of government provides them with a realistic view of what we do. For 35 years, Youth in Government Day has opened the door for good and honest dialogue among students and elected officials,” stated Oakland County Sixth Judicial Chief Circuit Judge Nanci J. Grant.

“Youth in Government continues to be an amazing opportunity to expose Oakland County students to the inner workings of how local government operates,’ said Oakland County Sheriff Michael J. Bouchard. For 35 years, this program has inspired our youth to be engaged in their communities and has taught them ways to make their voices be heard in the democratic process.”

“Democracy relies on the participation of all citizens. Youth in Government Day does a great job of inviting the next generation of leadership to the process,” said Oakland County Treasurer Andy Meisner.

“I love participating in Youth in Government Day and spending time with our students. It is not only a chance for students to learn valuable lessons about how government works, but also gives us, as elected officials, the opportunity to hear a perspective that often goes unheard,” stated Oakland County Clerk/Register of Deeds Lisa Brown.                 

Oakland County Board Vice Chairperson Jeff Matis will welcome students from Rochester/Rochester Hills. He represents the communities of the City of Rochester and the City of Rochester Hills in District #15.

Oakland County Commissioner Robert Gosselin will welcome students from Rochester/Rochester Hills. He represents the communities of the City of Auburn Hills, the City of Rochester Hills and the City of Troy in District #11.

Oakland County Youth Day History:

  •  In the 1970s, Student Government Day was organized under the first Oakland County Executive, Daniel T. Murphy, and supported by the Oakland County Board of Commissioners.
  • From the 1970s through the 1990s, Oakland County Student Government Day was held but not annually.
  • On April 4, 1996, the Oakland County Board of Commissioners re-established the program passing Miscellaneous Resolution #95322. The program Oakland County Student Government Day which is today, Youth in Government Day.
  • The Oakland County Board of Commissioners have been hosting and organizing Youth in Government Day for 15 consecutive years with the support of County Executive L. Brooks Patterson and the countywide elected officials.

Past issues students covered included:

* Homelessness and an exercise in purchasing a healthy lunch with a 55 cent allowance in 1992.

*From 2000 to 2015, topics have varied from West Nile Virus, High Home Foreclosure Rates, Anti-Bullying, Jail Overcrowding, Tether technology, to Video Conferencing, which are only a few of the topics and current events that have been discussed.                  

Past Youth in Government/Student in Government Day students have achieved in the public and private sector. Some are working in Washington DC as advocates; education at Central Michigan University, others have worked in corporations such as Goldman Sachs on the New York Stock Exchange, while others have graduated from Harvard, Wayne State, Holy Cross College, and studied in Japan and law school.  There is one former Youth in Government Day student who currently works for an Oakland County 6th Circuit Court Judge as a clerk.

Program Achievements include:

Receiving a special recognition from the National Association of Counties in 2013 for the Youth in Government Day program and in 2014 being featured nationally in the February 2014 National Association of Counties’ “County News,” as one of three model programs in the nation.

Youth in Government Day students will receive promotional items courtesy of the Detroit Tigers, Oakland County Parks and Recreation, the Oakland County Sheriff’s Office, the Oakland County Water Resources Commissioner and the Oakland County Economic Development/Community Affairs Division.

About Sarah Hovis

Word manipulator, arts appreciator, sports spectator, and world traveler, Sarah charts her own course as the owner of saliho creative. She uses her creative mind and engaging dialogue to fearlessly bring the written word to life in print and online… all while keeping a watchful eye out for the next literary adventure. You can reach her at [email protected].

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