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Youth in Governance

Impact in Wisconsin

Positive Youth Development: Youth in governance promotes positive outcomes among youth. It teaches the skills of active citizenship such as understanding how decisions are made and how to organize, plan, and communicate.

Ashland County

  • 13 youth served as Teen Court panelists and reported they gained self respect, confidence, leadership skills, and felt they made a difference in their community. One former panelist returned to assist with program coordination.

Calumet County

  • Camp counselors participated in training on teamwork, communication, and decision-making and after leading camp were able to identify skills that they could apply in their local communities and careers.

Green Lake:

  • The first annual Green Lake County 4-H Youth Adult Partnership Retreat, "Growing Together" was held on June 17-18 at the Green Lake Conference Center.Fifteen 4-H youth and adult leaders benefited from activities that promoted shared decision making. The retreat also included a visit from an adult and youth from the Marathon County 4-H Leader's Board.


  • 5 youth trained for service on Law Enforcement Committee of the County Board


  • 4-H Leader Board full-day retreat included self-assessment of youth involvement and follow-up training was integrated into meetings including 3 youth and 7 adults.

Manitowoc County

  • Manitowoc County Extension trained 37 high school students who led character education sessions for 500 elementary school students. Evaluation indicates the high school student leaders made a substantial impact on classroom issues and built leadership and career skills in themselves.

Marinette County

  • A 2007 survey of offenders completing Teen Court indicates that giving learning sanctions, not punishment, to correct behavior/helping not to re-offend, helping them bond to their community, change attitudes and realize consequences for poor choices. Families often indicate that they are stronger after Teen Court, due to better working together. The most effective change is changing self, with participants indicating that Teen Court has helped them feel that they matter. A majority found community service was meaningful, making them feel part of the community. Some continued service beyond the required hours.


  • Evaluation of youth involvement in Project Development Committees showed a broader understanding of 4-H as an educational program and the role of youth involvement. This understanding contributed to more effective participation in meetings, including the 4-H Leaders Board and other community groups.

Outagamie County

  • 164 youth participated in nine different Youth Leadership training events. Follow up evaluation reported that 54% of participants had taken action or were more involved leadership roles three months after the training while 73% felt more empowered to take action in their community.
  • 20 camp counselors reported gaining valuable life skills that would help them in community leadership and caeers from their camp counselor experience.

Portage County

  • 17 members participated in 4-H Club Officer training, which was co-taught by youth from the 4-H teen leaders board. Participants increased their knowledge of parliamentary procedure, how to run effective meetings, and reported increased comfort in the officer role


  • The Rusk County Youth Development Partnership Council partnered with UW-Extension to put on a Youth Voices in Community Action and Governance Day. The youth were taught about local governing bodies and how these bodies would like to have a presentation put forth to them. They were also taught how to plan out a presentation for a chosen issue and developed action plans.


  • 2 day-workshop brought presenters and 19 participants together for two days to learn how to work better together.


  • Advanced Leadership Seminar trained 12 youth at full day workshop


  • Three high school youth participate in the VILAS Vision program, a formerly all-adult leadership development program. They will participate in the group community service project and help with the youth issues training.


  • Ten youth from Washington County completed a 11 hour training through the Youth Leadership Academy, involving UWWC and community collaborators. As a result, each youth worked in a team to develop a community service project that could be implmented in the club, community or school.


  • 117 Waupaca High School students received 7-session training on land-use decision-making.


  • AmeriCorps members from 24 sites have been trained by 4-H Youth Development faculty in Public Adventures. Each member will be developing service-learning and civic involvement projects in partnership with youth in out-of-school settings.

Central District

  • 4-H Leader Boards from 10 counties participated in a year-long process of self-assessment, attended a district youth-adult training, and created plans to improve youth/adult partnership. Evaluations from youth and adult volunteers indicated substantial improvement in communication, youth involvement, and youth voice in program decisions in seven of the participating counties.

Northeast Winter Leadership Camp

  • Forty-two youth from 14 counties participated in a camp designed to teach foundational leadership skills. 87% of participants felt they had increased their ability to develop an action plan to reach their goals. The youth will initially apply their skills in 4-H clubs.


  • Youth as Partners in Civic Leadership, Organized a 3-day conference in 2009 for 111 youth and 38 adults from 18 teams to focus on five issues: healthy relationships, teen sexuality in the media, the environment, alcohol use and abuse and diversity.  84% reported they strengthened communication, leadership and other life skills at the YPCL conference.  81% reported that conference prepared them to facilitate a conversation in their community around youth voice policy.70% reported they felt prepared to meet with an elected official to discuss youth voice policy.