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Three Itasca County 4-H’ers Enhance Leadership Skills at State Capitol

From January 9-12 three Itasca County 4-H members were at the Minnesota State capitol to learn and lead through a mock state government program—the Minnesota YMCA Youth in Government; Model Assembly. Grants provided by the Grand Rapids Area Community Foundation and the Northland Foundation made this opportunity possible. The event provided youth opportunities to learn about state government and put their learning into action! Youth proposed bills, passed legislation, and served as Supreme Court justices.

For three months leading up to Model Assembly 4-H members Taylor T., Katelyn D., and Corrina K. met weekly with their delegation director, Itasca County Extension Educator, Courtney Johnson. Together, they actively prepared for Model Assembly. Corrina and Katelyn studied the process of legislation. Both youth drafted bills on topics that were important to them; Corrina’s bill focused on animal welfare and Katelyn’s on school lunches. Both youth presented their bills at Model Assembly and both made it to the youth Governor for signing. Katelyn also served in a leadership role as the Humphrey House Clerk. Taylor chose to focus on the courts system. Taylor drafted arguments on a real case, and they defended it before the youth MN Supreme Court. To inform their argument they studied related State and Supreme Court cases. Taylor also had the opportunity to be a Supreme Court Justice at Model Assembly.

Model Assembly: More than 1,600 youth from across Minnesota participated in Model Assembly. The event provided youth an opportunity to learn about state government, including all three branches: legislative, executive and judicial. Each day was packed with committee hearings, floor sessions, court case arguments and fun. Taylor T. said, “My favorite part was being able to present the case I was given, and furthermore winning two out of the three times I presented.” Although the days were long, youth had an amazing experience and learned more than they expected. Youth also made connections with their peers from across Minnesota.

Many of the youth participants were from the Metro area, Itasca County 4-H’ers enjoyed sharing their perspectives with their peers on living in rural Minnesota. “It's important to know how our government works so we can be more informed on what we can do as citizens to advocate for the issues we care about. I'll be voting in the next election, and although I was in the Supreme Court, through that I learned research skills to make me a more informed voter.” said Taylor.


By Courtney Johnson, Extension Educator