It is no secret that Youth in Government is a special program. Wisconsin’s program, however, is may be more special than anyone knew, compared to other programs across the country. Our program has about 150 delegates. For comparison, Minnesota has around 1,600 participating students, and Montana has 300. Many other states have much larger delegations, as there are about 55,000 students participating nationwide. However, it should be known that other states have larger populations and a stronger tradition of Youth in Government.
Another difference is the naming of the program. Just about every other state program is called “Youth and Government” or “Youth & Government” whereas Wisconsin’s is titled “Youth in Government.” This is not a major difference, but it worth noting when discussing the differences between delegations.
Program Areas also offer another difference. Many other state delegations, such as New Jersey and Illinois, offer a Lobbyist Corps. Members of this program area are typically assigned bills that are going to be debated in the chambers. These lobbyists research these bills, then learn the background and beliefs of their authors. It is then their sole job to talk to people and convince them to pass the bill. It is also their job to debate these bills, among other unassigned ones. They truly experience what it is like to be a lobbyist working with legislators and bills. Certain state delegations also get younger delegates involved in different ways than Wisconsin. Illinois’ Legislative Assistants program pairs younger delegates with senior legislators where they can learn the ins and outs of the legislative side of the program and be better prepared for when they become full-fledged members. North Carolina’s Freshman Forum allows 9th-grade students to work with peers their same age. They are paired in groups of four where they think of a topic they want to write a bill about. Then they present their bill in front of the Freshman Legislature where they perform different tasks such as the bill author, lobbyist, and budget analyst. A Budget Analyst is also another position that certain delegations offer. In North Carolina, the Budget Analysts analyze bills and submit an analysis outlining how the bill would fall into the state budget. They also have the right to argue for or against bills, whichever one is better for the state budget.
Texas has a very interesting situation where the Governor and his or her Cabinet write bills and propose them into the chambers. They debate the bills in order to get their agenda passed. They are pitted against Lobbyists, another position offered in Texas, whose job it is to argue against the bills the Governor and his or her Cabinet introduce. This would be very interesting as, since everyone involved is most likely a senior member, the debate would be lively and interesting. It would serve as a good model for new members who are wondering how to properly debate.
North Carolina offers another opportunity for delegates to participate in the Judicial branch. Adding on to the normal opportunities that the Wisconsin program provides and Supreme Court Cases with an appellant and respondent, North Carolina offers the chance to participate in a Mock Trial. Delegates from any program area and branch can apply to participate in this program that involves an attorney and a witness. This allows delegates to also witness how the Judicial branch works and also gives the chance to explore other opportunities, such as participating in a mock criminal case.
The Youth in Government, or Youth and Government, programs around the country are much different than Wisconsin’s. Some have different opportunities for delegates to get involved in and others transition younger students into the program differently. These different programs could attract newer delegates and make it so that current delegates could be involved more. But no matter if it is YIG or YAG, the YMCA program is known and loved nation wide.