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Youth in Governance

Impact in Wisconsin

Community Improvement: As youth become stakeholders and change agents in communities and organizations, they bring perspectives, knowledge and relationships that lead to better decisions and more productive action.

Ashland County

  • Teen Court heard 14 cases in 2009. Respondents overwhelmingly had a positive experience and felt the process provided by the youth panelists gave them a chance to take responsibility for their actions.

Barron County

  • Five youth and 10 adults participated in a Vision-to-Action process and developed goals and action plans for the 4-H Youth Development program.

Bayfield County

  • Teen Court members educated County Board members from the Northern District and followed up with a demonstration advocating for program expansion in Ashland County. Their testimony influenced Ashland County’s decision to increase 4-H funding to provide for a Teen Court program.

Calumet County

  • Four youth who attended Winter Leadership Camp transformed the county's 30+ years old 4-H Dance. Adults refused to move to a location without alcohol, afraid that they would lose money at their silent auction held during the dance. The youth found a location where the bar is separate from the dance floor. The result was a safe, fun event, free from alcohol and smoke. The Leaders Council made nearly $400 more from their silent auction than in the previous year. The Calumet County 4-H Leaders Council has passed a motion to have the youth leaders continue to be in charge of the 4-H Dance.
  • Youth Center Without Walls program has provided four activities for 7-8 grade youth so far this year. Four high School youth plan, implement, and evaluate the program under the guidance of an adult college intern.

Buffalo County

  • Twelve youth serve as voting members on the Buffalo County Partnership Council; one youth currently serves as Vice Chair. These students represent their classmates in four local school districts on family and youth development programming aiming to address issues such as availability of alcohol, bullying and teen domestic violence. In 2009, youth planned, implemented, and evaluated four major programs for over 600 youth and 50 parents.

Calumet County

  • Four youth who attended Winter Leadership Camp transformed the county's 30+ years old 4-H Dance. Adults refused to move to a location without alcohol, afraid that they would lose money at their silent auction held during the dance. The youth found a location where the bar is separate from the dance floor. The result was a safe, fun event, free from alcohol and smoke. The Leaders Council made nearly $400 more from their silent auction than in the previous year. The Calumet County 4-H Leaders Council has passed a motion to have the youth leaders continue to be in charge of the 4-H Dance.
  • Youth Center Without Walls program providesactivities for 7-8 grade youth. High School youth plan, implement, and evaluate the program under the guidance of an adult college intern.

Clark County

  • 26 community members from 4-H, FFA, FBLA, the National Farm Medicine Center and public schools planned and implemented a Youth Tent at Farm Technology Days that involved over 300 youth and adult volunteers and received 5,000 visitors.

Columbia County

  • Youth/Adult partnership works with Columbia County Connects Coalition activities such as the Asset Builders.
  • Teen Court established and trained by Extension involved 35 panelists hearing cases in 2009. Youth developed training materials, served as teen court panelists, and implemented service projects.

Douglas County

  • Douglas County Community Youth Development collaborates with local government and community organizations to provide opportunities for youth to serve in decision making positions. These efforts include Superior, a Community for Youth Committee which is a youth-adult partnership that provides resources and support for any youth wishing to address an idea, concern, or issue.

Dunn County

  • Creating a youth council with the Dunn County Partnership for Youth.

Eau Claire County

  • Eau Claire County 4-H Older Youth Council raised the second highest amount in the “Relay for Life,” adding to many youth-led activities—including a 4-H Discovery Day that featured Lego robotics, rocketry, dogs, cats, horses, photography and shooting sports--that shared 4-H with the community.
  • By going through the Public Adventures process, the 4th and 5th grade students identified a community project which they felt met a local need, developed, and with adult help, carried out a plan which resulted in a public bench and area which memorialize a resident who had been a friend, mentor and advocate for the youth of the community.

Florence County

  • A youth leadership group called the TORPEDOs engaged 47 youth with over 100 adults on a variety of community improvement projects, including planning and starting a peer tutoring program at school, participating in park design, building a pavilion and planting a new park, and many other project.
  • Eleven students trained in facilitating a community forum process through the Engaging Youth, Serving Communities project of the U.S. Department of Agriculture brought nearly 50 youth and adults together for a dialogue on youth engagement. Actions resulting from that process include:
  1. 15 students in the Building Construction Class built a deck and handicap ramp for a community member that had requested it
  2. Youth planned and publicized the creation of a community mural which involved over 100 community members and 259 elementary students.

Fond du Lac County

  • The 4-H Junior Leader Association sponsored mini-grants allowing 4-H clubs to create their own environmental project or expand previous service projects. Youth leaders created the application for clubs to get mini grants, they developed the report form for clubs, wrote the report to the granting agency, and created a ppt of the year’s project which they presented at annual 4-H achievement night to about 280 people. Examples of activities completed this year include • Planting over 150 trees • Pruning/Picking up leaves at local cemeteries • Garbage/Litter cleanup on bike trails • Educational programs for members by the FDL County Land/Water Conservation Dept. • Improvement to club flowerbeds at Town/Village Halls throughout FDL Co. • Roadside cleanup • Spring cleanup in marshland/wetland • Litter pickup around local rivers/streams • Help local communities beautify new parks/museums • Leaders from Campbellsport 4-H worked with the fair board to start recycling at the Fair • 4-H Jr. Leader members created and taught environmental lessons related to water use for 4th and 5th grade youth at the Boys’ and Girls’ Club Estimates of involvement are over 300 youth and adults participants with over $2000 being allocated to the program by 4-H clubs.
  • Fair Board requested additional youth voice and held a discussion in which youth decided to take leadership for an event and attend meetings to give youth input and learn about the whole operation.

Iowa County

  • Five youth participated in the Iowa County Health Department community needs assessment and were influential in identifying opportunities for youth as one of the top five issues.
  • Two youth served on the Mineral Point Ag Chamber Committee from its inception. These youth were instrumental in developing a new partnership with the Mineral Point FFA to increase the sale of local products as fundraisers. The Ag Chamber committee received the 2007 Rural Development Initiative Award for this effort. Another Mineral Point committee recently included a youth representative showing that other groups have begun to recognize the importance of youth involvement.

Jackson County

  • Together for Jackson County Kids, a community coalition, newly involves youth as voting members after an Extension-led youth-adult partnership training and  ongoing team-building activities.
  • Conducted study circles on youth issues co-facilitated by youth and adults

Kenosha County

  • The Youth As Resources Board of Directors is made up of youth and adults from Kenosha County who meet once a month to discuss community issues, provide grants to youth-led community service groups, and to plan community improvement initiatives. In 2009, $5,440 was distributed to 16 local youth groups (1395 youth participants) to complete community service and service learning projects through the Kenosha County YAR program.

Lac du Flambeau

  • Fifth graders and elders worked together to address illegal dumping of solid waste and other environmental issues. Students participated in an event where elders told cultural stories related to environmental issues, jointly held a channel clean-up and then proposed ideas for community development. With fifty projects created, the process has been adopted by the team and school to involve youth in these community issues.

LaCrosse County

  • The Youth Commission is a network of youth involving four youth from each of the nine schools within the county that addresses youth issues. In 2009, the 4-H & Youth Development Agent was involved in helping the Advocacy Committee deal with a couple of projects. The Youth Commissioners worked the advocacy committee and local media to host a “Plunge” event on teen alcohol and drug use/abuse. This was a traveling event where participants immersed themselves in AODA issues such as visit to the Emergency room, site of a traffic accident, a cemetery visit, a treatment center, etc. The youth commissioners are also working with schools to try and get uniform behavior codes for extracurricular activities.

Lincoln County

  • Since 2005, Lincoln County Teen Court has provided a panel of peers for first-time-offender youth aged 12-16. In 2009, the court heard 27 cases and had 38 panel members who built skills in decision-making, conflict resolution, and helped youth in trouble make positive amends in the community.
  • As a result of the equal number of youth and adults involved on the Jr. Dairy Committee, the number of "issues and controversies" with the Jr. Dairy show and program have been greatly reduced and seems to be returning to a positive youth development experience. After the 2003 Lincoln County 4-H Fair, the Fair Board was considering eliminating this area altogether due to the number of controversies that were occurring year after year.
  • As a result of the involvement of 17 adults and nine youth and adults on the "After the Bell" Steering Committee, a strong after school program for middle school youth was implemented.

Marathon County

  • Junior Fair Board consists of 1/2 youth and 1/2 adult members. Youth are the officers and lead the discussion for policy changes and rule changes. In February a public forum to address ethics protocol and procedures was held, with youth officers leading the forum in the UW-Marathon Campus Auditorium.

Marinette County

  • Teens in the Healthy Youth Coalition outnumber the adults about two to one with nearly 40 teens serving as co-officers, on committees, doing a multiple number of community services and the Drama Troupe. Teens are the driving force and the adults the advisors.

Oneida County

  • In May, 2009 two Oneida County teen court sites were approved by the judges and implemented by Winkler. Five young people were selected for the Rhinelander site and nine students for the Minocqua site. Youth offenders were recruited from a plea in Juvenile Court and referral by the presiding judge. Twenty-six cases have been handled by teen court members. 81% of offenders realized they would be accountable for the actions and 75% said they appreciated the opportunity. 74% of parents of youth offenders  were very supportive of the teen court approach as a means of helping their sons/daughters.
  • Five Rhinelander High School students each conducted a nominal group process on health issues for about 12-15 middle school students representing Rhinelander and Three Lakes School District students. Healthier school lunches and more after school activities for area youth were the identified priorities. The school board has adopted the initial plan.
  • Extension led a teacher and 3rd-5th grade students through a planning process for an environmental education facility, for which the youth have demonstrated ownership by committing to work days.

Pierce County

  • Three 4-H Community Clubs wrote and received grants to work on tobacco sales to minors.  They developed a variety of educational approaches including poster campaigns, postcard reminders of the rules for sales of tobacco to minors, and “Thank you for doing the right thing” artwork which reached retailers in three different cities or villages across Pierce County.

Polk County

  • The Polk County Tobacco Coalition has been an active group of adult and youth partners since 1995. Youth write grants, provide peer education, present at workshops, and conduct tobacco compliance checks. Youth have established active teen peer tobacco education groups in six school districts, have helped to raise the number of businesses checked for compliance from 50 in 1999 to 207 businesses holding tobacco licenses in 2007. Youth have been a major partner in helping to reduce Polk Counties youth tobacco use from 33% in 2002 to 21% in 2006. 2008 Wisconsin statistics put Polk County youth smoking below the state average. Youth peer modeling as well as youth school groups with youth coalition groups as leaders and advocates certainly has played a role in the reduced youth use of tobacco products.

Portage County

  • Youth Action Committee sponsored activities that led to 600 hours of service recorded. To help strengthen the partnership between adults and youth we offered a youth-adult partner training to organizations that provide opportunities for youth to volunteer and YAC members. The adult/youth training was held May 2005. Thirty-seven youth and adults attended this training. Some of the youth participants said that they had never had an opportunity to share their views with adults before.

Rock County

  • Junior Council members expanded their partnership with a community effort to donate toys for holiday gifts that allowed the group to serve 140 more families in 2007 than in 2006.

Shawano County

  • Shawano County 4-H Skate Team members continued fund-raising activities under adult volunteer leadership throughout 2005. Since 2003, a total of $25,000 has been raised by this club for eventual construction of a permanent skateboard park for youth.

Sheboygan County

  • Youth served on the initial committee and helped plan and implement the first Sheboygan County 4-H Bowl-a-Thon. The planning committee is comprised of an equal number of youth and adults, the chair of the committee is a youth member and the profits are equally split by the Leaders Association and the Youth Association.
  • Youth worked with 4-H and legislative groups to interview and offer guidance on the selection of the 4-H program coordinator.

Taylor County

  • 8 youth and one adult director formed Taylor Co Youth Board for Big Brothers/Sisters. 
  • 6 Youth formed a committee of the Chamber of Commerce to do a Dance Contest fund raiser on 4th of July.  4 youth and one adult work with the Chamber.
  • Three teens, two females and one male became full voting members on the Taylor County Fair Board. They brought NASCAR members and their race cars to the fair for demonstration.

Vernon County

  • The Vernon County Teen Court program has made a positive impact since it’s inception in 2001. Teen Court has served 344 first-time youth offenders, ages 12-17 since 2001. These youth have a wide variety of offenses, from underage drinking to theft to disorderly conduct. The recidivism rate, the percentage of youth that re-offend within 5 years, is 11%, well below the state average of 15%. The Vernon County Teen Court program utilizes a peer-jury model, which means that the jury hearing cases is drawn from teen volunteers and youth sanctioned to serve on the jury as a result of their actions that brought them into Teen Court. This blend of experience, age and motivation creates a diverse jury with a rich blend of perspectives.
  • Youth ambassadors initiated and organized a Super Saturday event to promote outdoor education in partnership with the DNR. 125 youth and 80 adults attended this youth-led event, up from 18 at the previous event.

Vilas County

  • Ten Lakeland Union High School teen court volunteers—including three who helped as part of their sanctions from the peer court session--spent a day doing hour long teen court presentations to the high school's feeder schools. They initiated the need to get the word out to 7 & 8 graders about the teen court option should they need it and to encourage them to apply to be a volunteer on the panel when they are in 9th grade. At four schools, the high school students presented to over 300 middle school students plus staff. The youth volunteers felt that they impacted the younger students based on the questions that were asked of them and the informal feedback at the end of their presentations.

Waukesha County

  • 4-H youth serve as Summer & Winter Camp Program Staff in Waukesha County and are entirely responsible for the camp programming planning and its implementation at Upham woods. Counselors and Counselors in Training at camp are the first ‘court of appeal’ for campers’ troubles, disputes, and organization.

Waupaca County

  • UW-Extension provides professional development and evaluation support to service-learning for Waupaca County schools.  Successful projects include: 4th graders teaching peers about staying healthy during the H1N1 outbreak, middle school recycling, and the development of a prairie environment at Clintonville High School.
  • Waupaca Youth on Boards includes participation and contributions to decision in many sectors including executive (city council committees; appointed boards), county cross sectional coalitions (tobacco, nutrition and activity coalition), school improvement work (community service committee), 4-H (leaders board), non-profit (trails, triathalon, park foundation, community foundation).

Winnebago County

  • A 4-H Horse and Pony committee of 6 youth and 3 adults met to propose Fair Book changes that would resolve a controversial policy about requirements for participation in the project area. Youth participation contributed to an effective policy and made the process more credible to youth in the Horse and Pony project.

Wisconsin State-wide Activities

  • North Central Regional Leader Forum was an example of youth/adult partnership from engaging 17 youth and 79 adult volunteers in planning committees to presenting a larger-than-ever number of sessions led by youth/adult teaching teams.