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Posted on: April 5, 2019

Orange County Youth Bureau celebrates 75th annual Youth-in-Government

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Goshen, N.Y. – Orange County celebrated the 75th anniversary of the Youth-in-Government program on Friday, April 5th, with just under 70 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.”

Eleven school districts from Orange County participated in Youth-in-Government Day – Chester, Cornwall, James I. O’Neill, Middletown, Minisink Valley, Newburgh, Pine Bush, S.S. Seward, Valley Central, Warwick, and Washingtonville. Students spent the morning shadowing representatives from 23 Orange County departments, including Emergency Services, Office for the Aging, Social Services and the Youth Bureau. Some students participants were elected to positions such as County Executive, District Attorney, Sheriff and Family Court Judges.

Students elected to the positions of County Legislators were able to use their debating skills and participate in a mock legislative session in the County’s Legislative Chambers in the Government Center. After which, they watched a real Orange County legislative session. The day concluded with a luncheon where students had informal discussions with District Attorney David Hoovler, County Legislators and other County officials.

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(Orange County Legislator Kevin Hines and Cornwall High student Kayla Hughes during the Legislative session at Youth-in-Government Day)

“As a co-planner for Youth-in-Government Day, we appreciate the dedicated County elected officials and representatives from County departments who invest their time to give youth a behind the scenes look at what it’s like 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 current 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 understanding of how their local town and county governments functioned.

“The objectives of the program center on striving for a greater understanding of and party participation in county government by the future voters and office holders,” said Orange County Legislator Rob Sassi, a former social studies teacher at Valley Central High School and ongoing Youth-In-Government coordinator. “This year’s group of students stood out as such a professional group of young people. They actively participated in the different activities during the day and were a pleasure to be around.”

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 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.

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