Engaging Youth in County Government: Cabarrus County, NC


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Regular contact between county leaders and youth is important to the futures of both the youth and the county. Counties need responsible and informed citizens, as well as future elected officials and capable, creative staff. Youth need to know they have a future in their county and that county government leaders are willing to hear their voice. This workshop, held during the NCACC's 2012 Annual Conference, offered practical ideas and concrete steps for engaging youth in county government, including a session on engaging youth in citizenship through community and school partnerships.

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  • 1 – 9 year longitudinal study conducted after civic education was made mandatory that showed student attitudes about political involvement are what make a difference; and, that active educational opportunities lead to more positive attitudes 2 – Information gathered revealed students need opportunities to be engaged and participate, motivation is key and social recognition of participation is important as is a sense of belonging
  • An unexpected positive outcome
  • Engaging Youth in County Government: Cabarrus County, NC

    1. 1. Quality + Impact = POWER Cabarrus County 4-H Citizenship Focus
    2. 2. Planning and Preparation• Conversations with Civics teachers and county commissioner, attendance at workshop• Tenth grade Civics students have the opportunity to actively learn about local government through experiences
    3. 3. The Program• Cabarrus 4-H Citizenship Focus – Visit to Cabarrus County Governmental Center • Panel discussion with elected officials • Budget simulation activity • Employee interviews
    4. 4. Target Audience & Skills• Cabarrus County Civics classes• Program designed to align with NC Standard Course of Study objectives
    5. 5. Research Base• Young peoples intended civic and political participation: Does education matter? Lopes, Joana; Benton, Thomas; Cleaver, Elizabeth; Journal of Youth Studies, Vol 12(1), Feb, 2009. pp. 1- 20.• Building the evidence base for youth engagement: Reflections on youth and democracy. Yohalem, Nicole; Martin, Shanetta; Journal of Community Psychology, Vol 35(6), Aug, 2007. Special issue: Youth and democracy: Participation for personal, relational, and collective well-being. pp. 807-810.
    6. 6. Goal• Participation in Cabarrus 4-H Citizenship Focus will bring meaning to several Civics course objectives through a ‘learn by doing’ opportunity and produce engaged citizens.
    7. 7. Objectives• Students will become more confident in speaking with elected officials• Students will learn what their civic responsibilities are• Students will encourage adults they know to vote• Students will talk about local government issues with others
    8. 8. County Finance Manager leadsstudents in budget simulation
    9. 9. A group of students visit with theCabarrus County Parks Director
    10. 10. A student addresses the panel of elected officials
    11. 11. Partners• Cabarrus County Cooperative Extension• Cabarrus County Government• Cabarrus County Schools• Kannapolis City Schools• City of Concord• City of Kannapolis
    12. 12. Partners, continued• Town of Harrisburg• Town of Mount Pleasant• Cabarrus County Cooperative Extension Youth Advisory Council
    13. 13. Resources• NC Civic Education Consortium• Rotary of Cabarrus County
    14. 14. Marketing• Flyer for teachers• NCACC• NACo• Newspaper• Success stories
    15. 15. Evaluation• Immediate evaluation• Follow-up evaluation
    16. 16. Benefits of Program• 2700 students served• Majority of students report being more confident in speaking with elected officials• Nearly 90% of students better understand their civic responsibilities• Volunteer hours = $18,000• More educated voters in county
    17. 17. Recognition
    18. 18. Key Points• Communicate with teachers – you need their buy-in• Orient students• Be organized and flexible
    19. 19. How do I replicate the program? Questions