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Goshen, N.Y. – Orange County proudly hosted the Youth-in-Government program on Thursday, April 20th, just over 60 students from 11 local school districts at the County’s Government Center.
The Orange County Youth Bureau and Orange/Ulster BOCES co-host Youth-in-Government Day which highlights the continued commitment and support local schools and officials have in developing young leaders from around the County.
“Each year, we are impressed by the young people who take the time to get involved in our local government,” Orange County Executive Steven M. Neuhaus said. “They actively participated in the different activities during the day, and I know that everyone enjoyed spending time with them. We are all proud of these students and our partnership with Orange/Ulster BOCES.”
Two students from James I. O’Neill High School, Kate Feldman and Isaiah Bates, were assigned to the County Executive’s Office as part of Thursday’s program and joined Neuhaus at Woodbury Common Premium Outlets, where he delivered his State of the County address to members of the Orange County Chamber of Commerce. Neuhaus invited Feldman and Bates to the dais to each read a slide from his presentation.
Eleven districts from Orange County participated in Youth-in-Government Day –Cornwall, James I. O’Neill, Marlboro, Minisink, Newburgh, Pine Bush, Port Jervis, S.S. Seward, Valley Central, Warwick, and Washingtonville. Students spent the morning shadowing representatives from 21 Orange County departments, including, Emergency Services, Health, Mental Health, Office for the Aging, Social Services, Probation, and the County Executive’s Office. A few student participants were elected to positions such as County Executive, District Attorney, Sheriff, and County, Supreme, and Family Court Judges.
Students also debated current issues and participated in a special mock session with the Orange County Legislature at the Government Center.
“As the Orange County Youth Bureau celebrates its 45th anniversary year, it is exciting to see programs like Youth-in-Government Day going strong after so many years! We look forward to this time of year and appreciate the partnership with Orange-Ulster BOCES to match up students with elected County officials and representatives from County Departments. We also appreciate our colleagues who help provide youth with such a positive, first-hand experience into what is like to work in public service,” said Rachel Wilson, Orange County Youth Bureau Executive Director.
Youth-in-Government Day is a part of the Youth-In-Government Program coordinated by Orange/Ulster BOCES in partnership with schools throughout the County. The program provides students with the opportunity to learn firsthand about the democratic process and encourages students to become active participants in government, particularly county government. Orange County’s Youth-In-Government Program was inspired in the early 1940s by Orange County resident and Congresswoman Katherine St. George who felt that people were well acquainted with national politics but lacked an understanding of how their local town and county governments functioned.
Wilson encouraged students to continue exploring their interest in government by applying to the Summer Youth Government Immersion Program coordinated by the Orange County Youth Bureau. This free program provides unpaid work experience to high school students who are current sophomores, juniors, or graduating seniors. Volunteers gain real-life work experience in County departments. Contact the Youth Bureau at 615-3620 or visit www.facebook.com/OrangeCountyYB about this and many other programs serving youth and families.