Douglas County has a history of innovative ways to get youth involved in local government. It was the first in the state to offer a Youth in Governance program which placed high school students on the county board of supervisors. Superior Days was a natural extension of this program and a Youth Delegation has been a staple since Superior Days II.
The Youth Delegation is led by UW-Extension, 4H Youth Development Educators, secondary school teachers, and adult volunteers. The delegates make up a large percentage of the entire delegation every year, represent more counties than the adults, and have proven to be great spokespersons for their communities.
The youth increase their knowledge and civic skills during the Superior Days process. They help plan Superior Days by identifying issues important to their community and choosing a Keynote Speaker for their banquet to talk about a specific issue. They also plan what activities they will do when not lobbying, such as job shadowing, agency visits or special tours.
While planning for Superior Days, youth learn about local and state government and how they work together; what lobbying is and why it’s done; and how to become engaged in their community and local issues. During their time in Madison, they work alongside adult delegates on lobby teams, giving a youth voice to issues in front of legislators and agency officials.
There are many benefits for students who are part of this delegation. They meet other youth from Northwest Wisconsin who have similar interests, connect with decision makers in and outside of their community, and become leaders in their own right.
Legislative and agency officials often comment on well prepared the youth are and look forward to hearing their presentations. The youth bring an energy and optimism that is truly inspiring to all the adults who work with them, often raising perceptions of youth-adult partnerships.
Superior Days Youth Coordinator