A total of 16 Hermantown high school and middle school students recently participated in a four-day 2023 Youth In Government Conference in the Twin Cities.
Over 1,200 students from throughout Minnesota participated in the annual event, including 82 students from the Duluth delegation.
Katie Taffe of Hermantown High School has participated in the Youth in Government program for five years and has had the honor of serving as governor since January 2022.
“Youth in Government helped to developed me professionally and personally, and I’ve been able to meet intelligent and funny kids from throughout Minnesota and nationally,” said Taffe, a Hermantown senior and a 4.0 student (on a 4.0 scale) who will attend Georgetown University, where she plans to major in government and minor in economics. “Hermantown has really great social studies and civics teachers, but gaining hands-on government experience through Youth in Government has been personally invaluable. I love public policy and really like helping people. Ideally, I’d like to intern at Capitol Hill and someday work as a public policy analyst.”
YIG provides an environment and structure for students to learn how to present their ideas, participate in respectful disagreements and learn how the Minnesota, U.S. and International government systems work. The delegates take on roles of legislators, lobbyists, attorneys, judges, media, staffers and elected officials.
“We’re the ones leading the program, and we’re bound to make mistakes which is how we learn and get better,” Taffe said. “The personal and professional growth I’ve witnessed from the participants in the last five years is phenomenal.”
Taffe also had the opportunity Monday to speak at a press conference with MN Secretary of State Steve Simon, when she supported the legislative initiative to allow 16- and 17-year-olds to pre-register to vote.
"This amazing youth development program is part of the YMCA Center for Youth Voice and is truly life changing for the participants," said Julie Taffe, Katie’s mother. "As an adult advisor I have witnessed students from multiple communities, share that this program is the only reason they did not drop out of school. The confidence that is gained and the opportunities available are an enhancement to what is taught in classrooms and follow the YMCA Core Values of Caring, Equity, Honesty, Respect and Responsibility.”