St. Paul, MN – The YMCA, a leading nonprofit dedicated to strengthening communities through youth development, healthy living and social responsibility, will host more than 500 students in grades eight through 12 for a four-day virtual conference that allows them to directly participate in the processes of the executive, legislative and judicial branches of state government.

At this year’s Youth in Government conference, the state’s largest hands-on civic education event, students from across the state will take on roles as legislators, lobbyists, lawyers, judges and journalists and, quite literally, practice democracy. During the conference:

  • Youth legislators will identify issues important to them, draft bills and present them in online committee hearings and work together to find solutions that benefit the state and its people;
  • Students will prepare, present and discuss important national issues in a format that encourages respect and understanding of different perspectives;
  • Court members will prepare for hearings and make arguments before Youth Judges or Justices. Students will have the opportunity to argue both sides of their assigned case and will have an opportunity to serve on the bench.

“Following a year that included a pandemic, significant racial tensions and a contentious Presidential election, it has never been more important to give young people the opportunity to get engaged with the important issues that face the state, nation and world,” said Orville Lindquist, state program executive for the YMCA Center for Youth Voice.

Lindquist added that a recent study out of CIRCLE at Tufts University notes that 79 percent of young people say the COVID-19 pandemic has helped them realize that politics impact their everyday lives. But it isn’t enough to simply want change – understanding how systems work strengthens the ability to transform the world to a better, more just place. Students come to Youth in Government to find their voices and to learn how to use them out in the wider world.

A hallmark of Youth in Government is youth leadership.  Eighteen youth officers, elected by their peers, will lead all sessions. The Officers are assisted by 125 appointed officials in providing forums for exchange of ideas and respectfully discussing potential solutions.

YMCA Center for Youth Voice

Minnesota YMCA Youth in Government Virtual Conference

January 7-10, 2021
Sessions will happen via Zoom and Youth in Government Youth Officers will be in-person at YMCA Center for Innovation and Development located at 2525 Wabash Avenue in St. Paul, MN 55114.

The opening session at 3 p.m. via Zoom on Thursday, January 7, will have (retired) Judge Jill Halbrooks from the Minnesota Court of Appeals and YMCA Center of Youth Voice Board Member administering oaths of office to youth leaders.

About the YMCA of the North

The YMCA of the North is a leading nonprofit dedicated to strengthening communities through youth development, healthy living and social responsibility.  Established 165 years ago, the Ys provide life-strengthening services across the greater Twin Cities metro region, southeastern Minnesota and western Wisconsin communities.  The 29 Y locations and program sites, eight overnight camps, 10 day camps, and more than 90 child care sites engage more than 370,000 men, women and children of all ages, incomes and backgrounds. To learn more about the Y’s mission and work, visit