Youth leadership development is critical in building civic capacity and long-term community sustainability in Kenosha County. Programs that teach useful skills and build the self-confidence of young people ensure capable, effective leaders for the next generation. Data from a 2006 Kenosha County Search Institute survey documented that only 23% of youth perceive that their community values youth and only 27% believe that youth are given useful roles in the community. These results were among the lowest of all the assets measured and were lower than similar assets measured at a national level.
In direct response to these survey results, the Kenosha County Board of Supervisors created the Kenosha County Youth In Governance (YIG) program in 2007. The purpose of the Youth In Governance program is to create a model of youth empowerment within Kenosha County, through direct participation in local government. The overall goal is to bring the youth voice to community issues and concerns while fostering the development of confident, independent, and motivated youth leaders.
The Kenosha County Youth In Governance program consists of a maximum of 14 youth members. No more than two youth members will serve on a county board committee. The requirements to be on the Youth In Governance are:
- Youth entering the program must be a high school sophomore or junior
- Youth must have a grade point average of 2.5 or greater on a 4.0 scale
- Youth must be a Kenosha County resident
- Youth must be able to attend monthly committee meetings and one county board meeting
- Youth should attempt to attend additional committee meetings that are combined with other committees
- Youth must be able to participate in the Youth In Governance Bus tour – held the last Wednesday in June
- Youth members will not be paid a stipend or mileage for attending meetings.
Prospective youth members will be required to fill out a short application. The application consists of basic contact information, school, GPA, and short answer questions about their intended objectives for the Youth In Governance program and how the program will increase their civic awareness and leadership skills. The application will include a written recommendation from an adult who has knowledge of the youth’s abilities (typically a school staff member). The Planning, Development & Extension Education Committee will then interview applicants and recommend youth members for appointment by the Kenosha County Board Chairman to serve on selected committees.
County’s Youth In Governance Program Chooses New Class, Kenosha News, May 27, 2013
County Swears in Youth in Governance Members, Kenosha News, May 20, 2012
Youth Enthusiastic to Have Seat at County Board’s Table , Kenosha News, June 8, 2011
18 Teens Join YIG-2010, Kenosha News, May 30, 2010
Youth in Governance Swears in New Participants, Kenosha News, April 26, 2009
County: Youth will be Allowed in Most Closed Sessions, Kenosha News, June 22, 2008
Laurel, Kenosha News, June 24, 2007
It’s Risky to Expose Student to the County Board, Kenosha News, March 22, 2007.
County Considers Youth Input, Kenosha News, September 7, 2006.
Board Approval, Kenosha News, March 21, 2007.
County Officials Open Door to Involve Youths in Government, Kenosha News, March 15, 2007
Tedi J. Winnett
Kenosha County UW-Extension