Youth in Government

What is the purpose of the YMCA Youth in Government program?
Youth in Government, a national YMCA program, empowers students from every corner of the U.S. by giving them the opportunity to learn about—and experience—government policies and methodologies firsthand. This unique program is made up of thousands of teens nationwide in state-organized, model-government programs. Participants immerse themselves in experiential civic engagement, debate issues that affect citizens in their state and even propose legislation. The program culminates with teens serving as delegates at their state conference, debating bills on the floor of the legislature.

Youth in Government offers the opportunity for young people to:

  • Research local, state, and national issues of concern.
  • Analyze and organize information to propose change. 
  • Engage in dialogue with students across state and national locations. 
  • Skill building in communication, leadership, and community engagement. 

Idaho is a geographically, economically, and politically diverse state, it is important to prepare our future leaders to participate effectively in governing the state of Idaho.

“Democracy must be learned by each generation.”

Idaho’s YMCA Youth in Government is the second longest running conference in the United States. The first conference was held in 1936. 

The state is divided into four regions:

North Central

South Central

South East

South West

Each region holds a regional conference before the state conference to elect officials and appoint Supreme Court counsels to represent the region at the state conference. 

Each region has high schools or YMCA branch delegations.

Each school or YMCA branch holds monthly meetings to learn about the three branches of government and how each work to pass and enforce laws. 

All schools and YMCA branch delegations participate in a state conference running a model legislative session and Supreme Court. 

Idaho Youth Governors

Bill History

Idaho’s YMCA Youth in Government program is open to high school students (grades 7–12) in every community in Idaho. Youth delegations must represent either a school or YMCA group, the following Idaho schools currently have Youth in Government chapters:

  • Oakley High School
  • Clearwater Valley High School
  • Bear Lake High School
  • Leadore High School
  • Centennial High School
  • Caldwell High School
  • Borah High School
  • Capital High School
  • Kamiah High School
  • Grangeville High School

If your school does not have a chapter and you’re interested in getting involved, there are also chapters at the Downtown Boise YMCA and Caldwell YMCA.

Contact Sam Bellis at sam.bellis@ymcatvidaho.org for more information.

Youth Governor Candidates

Giulianna Saxton
My name is Giulianna Saxton and I’m a junior currently attending Bear Lake High School in a little town in Southeast Idaho. I have served only one year on student council, but I’ve honed my leadership skills through taking leadership positions in sports and school activities. 


I’m involved in many activities, but I’m especially involved in sports. Sports have taught me how to work with others as a cohesive unit in order to reach a common goal, as I’ve just recently won a state championship with my basketball team. Through serving my community and other experiences I’ve gained an understanding of issues facing the youth in Idaho today.

 

If elected, my goal is to increase student involvement in our government, and help amplify the voices of the youth in our state as well. I know that in such a small town where I live, student involvement is very slim. I intend to change that, everyone deserves to be heard and have a voice. 


With a passion and commitment to making a difference, I’m ready to serve as your Youth Governor. I’m ready to work tirelessly to build a bright future for the youth of Idaho. Thank you for your support! 

2024 Youth in Government State Conference: April 24 & 25 at the Idaho State Capitol in Boise

Legislative Schedule »

Youth Supreme Court Schedule »

State Session Bill Book »

Opening Ceremony Script »

Closing Ceremony Script »

House Script »

Senate Script »

 

CONTACT:

Sam Bellis, Youth Experience and Innovation Director

Phone: 208 377 4886, ext. 208

Email us here!

2023-2024 Idaho Youth in Government State Committee Members

  • Hon. Judge Jessica Lorello
  • Hon. Justice Joel Horton
  • Hon. Judge Laurie Fortier
  • Phil Reberger 
  • Dr. Ross Burkhart  
  • Steve Messenger
  • Alyson Townsley
  • Megan Schultz
  • Abigail Breidenbach
  • Jennifer Dettori
  • Stacey Gobel
  • Makenna Denuit

2024 Elected Officials

Youth Governor Candidates

Giulianna Saxton

My name is Giulianna Saxton and I’m a junior currently attending Bear Lake High School in a little town in Southeast Idaho. I have served only one year on student council, but I’ve honed my leadership skills through taking leadership positions in sports and school activities. 

I’m involved in many activities, but I’m especially involved in sports. Sports have taught me how to work with others as a cohesive unit in order to reach a common goal, as I’ve just recently won a state championship with my basketball team. Through serving my community and other experiences I’ve gained an understanding of issues facing the youth in Idaho today.

If elected, my goal is to increase student involvement in our government, and help amplify the voices of the youth in our state as well. I know that in such a small town where I live, student involvement is very slim. I intend to change that, everyone deserves to be heard and have a voice. 

With a passion and commitment to making a difference, I’m ready to serve as your Youth Governor. I’m ready to work tirelessly to build a bright future for the youth of Idaho. Thank you for your support! 

 

Sam Green

Samuel Green is a fifteen year old sophomore from Grangeville High School. He represents the North Regional Delegation as candidate for Youth Governor. In school he participates in as many extracurricular activities as he can, including being class president and an officer in the FFA, as well as being on GHS’s honor roll. Samuel is proud to work on the farm that has been in his family for generations, a place where he learned the value of hard work, as well as the power of knowledge and careful planning. He is an ambitious man and believes in doing the best in anything endeavors in. Should Samuel have the honor of being elected he intends on working to further develop the Youth In Government program. He believes that fostering Youth in Governments growth into new schools is important for ensuring the programs future, and more importantly, that it is our duty to educate everyone on our civic processes. 

 

Ella Hitt

My name is Ella Hitt and I am a Junior at Oakley High School. I am on the varsity swim team, cross country team, I manage the girls basketball team, and I am the Junior Class Vice President. I enjoy politics, baking, and just exploring Idaho! After high school I plan on attending Boise State University to study journalism and hopefully become a political or athletic reporter. My favorite, and the best way, to eat a potato is waffle fries with lots of fry sauce. I look forward to running for your Youth Governor and will be doing my best for all Idaho youth!

 

Elizabeth Carraway

My name is Elizabeth Carraway, I am from Boise Idaho currently attending Borah High School where I am a varsity member of the debate team and am lined up for a leadership position in my schools green team next year. I am a third generation Idahoan and a big advocate for a better education system in Idaho. In my free time I find myself drawing semi-realism landscapes and adventuring in the Boise foothill where I spend time volunteering and taking hikes. My goals are to remove the system of inequality in the Idaho education system and provide safe communities and learning opportunities for all students. I am planning on pursuing a career in social work so the needs of people especially my peers is my top issue I wish to address. A vote for me would entail a future of change in our Idaho school systems for the better.

 

Speaker of the House Ethan DeClark

Hi, my name is Ethan DeClark, and I am a 17 year old Senior from Bear Lake High School. Some of my favorite hobbies include riding snowmobiles, dirt bikes, almost anything else outdoors, and I am also a very active member in FFA. Once I graduate from high school I plan to pursue a degree in Mechanical Engineering from Utah State University. One of my favorite foods, and my favorite way to eat potatoes is dutch oven potatoes.

 

Senate Floor Leader Ella Henry

My name is Ella Henry and this will be my second year participating in the YMCA Youth in Government State Conference. I previously held the position of Secretary of State at last year’s state conference and was able to learn much about the legislative process and how bills are passed in committees and the Senate/House. This fall I will be studying at Columbia University in the City of New York where I hope to double major in Political Science-Economics and Human Rights. My preference of potato would have to be either really good fries or almost any mashed potatoes. 

 

Editor in Chief Don Shumbusho

I am very excited to be Editor-In-Chief and help organize the newsletter at State this year. I cannot wait to see the legislative sessions, take notes, and photos, and write stories about what happens.

I play the viola, I like to edit essays, I love drinking boba, and lastly, I like to ride my bike around town

My favorite, and the BEST, way to eat potatoes is Steak Fries.

 

Chief Justice Elect Ruby Willis

This is my second year in YIG!

I am so excited to be an elected official and to get to represent the North Region! The judicial branch is a blast and I can’t wait to be a part of it again and to meet all the new people!

I am involved in volleyball, softball, YIG, our school play, knowledge bowl, and student council!

I plan on going to college to major in Law, in hopes to become a lawyer!

My favorite way to eat a potato would be a baked potato with all the toppings!

 

Attorney General Zach DeClark

I am a mediocre golfer, and have been since my freshman year. I hope to obtain a degree in software engineering following my high school graduation. While potatoes have an exceptional variety for how to be eaten, my favorite is gnocchi.

 

Appellate Judge Tayzley Neal

Last year was my first year that I participated in Youth in Government and I loved it. Not only was I able to learn so much about how our government works and runs as a whole I learned about each and every position in the Capital. I also learned so much about the courtroom because that is where my role presided. Outside of academic extracurricular activities, such as Youth in Government, I enjoy participating in volleyball as my fall sport, basketball as my winter sport, and then track and softball as my spring sports. I would have to say that my favorite way to eat a potato definitely has to be a baked potato!

 

Youth Governor Makenna Denuit

Makenna is the Youth Governor of Idaho. She is a junior at Grangeville High School and participates in band, knowledge bowl, BPA, track, soccer, and student council. She joined Youth and Government her freshman year and was able to attend the Youth Governors Conference in the summer of 2023. Here, she was able to explore Washington D.C. with Youth Governors across the nation and learn more about the program. Since joining the program, Makenna has discovered a passion for legislative procedure. She hopes that other students in the program are able to discover something they are passionate about through the program. 

 

 

Press Staff Haleigh Perry

 
Hello my name is Haleigh Perry, and I’m running for Press Editorial Staff this year. This is my first year in Youth in Government and although I haven’t gotten to do a lot, even just going to our regional conference in Lewiston was so much fun, getting to meet new people who I was going to get to work with at our state conference in Boise. I’m most excited to get to meet even more people at state and make more friendships and strengthen friendships that I already have. I enjoy playing volleyball, participating in 4H, and HOSA. After high school, I plan to move to Lewiston and go to college at LCSC to pursue Radiology and become a Radiologic Technologist. My favorite way to eat a potato is definitely a tie between baked and mashed.
 

Press Staff Emma Hird

My name is Emma Hird, and this is my first year in youth in government and I am so excited to be on the press staff with my fellow Borah Lion Don, this year’s Editor-in-chief. I am in competitive speech and debate, I run Odd Hours Theater Company as managing director, and I am also the co-president of the green team and manage our garden. I love politics and have been involved since I was five years old when I interviewed then-U.S. Senate candidate Nels Mitchell, mostly about his horses but it was a start! After high school, I plan to study cultural anthropology and political science hoping to one day run my very cool friends many campaigns! The best way to eat potatoes is for sure hash browns, and that is coming from the great-granddaughter of potato farmers so you have to believe me!

2024 Conference on National Affairs, June 29th – July 5th, 2024

 

Every summer, Youth in Government participants from across the country come together to participate at the Conference on National Affairs (CONA) at the YMCA Blue Ridge Assembly in Black Mountain, North Carolina. Selected delegates prepare proposals on issues of national importance to present and debate during the conference. The conference offers an opportunity for students to critically think about the nation, network with peers from different parts of the country, and have fun in the spirit of lively debate. The estimated cost of the entire trip is $2,500 per delegate (this includes conference fee, lodging, food, airfare, and ground transportation cost). Limited financial assistance is available.

2024 Applications are now closed.

This program is proudly funded by: