Youth Government Day

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Youth Government Day

What is Youth Government Day?

Inspiring high school and community college students to explore careers in government and public service is the primary goal of the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute's Youth Government Day. Youth Government Day has brought over 2,000 young people from around Illinois into direct contact with federal and state legislators, state constitutional officers, judges, lobbyists, journalists and others involved in government, public policy making, and the political process. The day-long event provides ample opportunities for students to engage in informal conversations with such leaders.

The program is an one day, Saturday event in the State Capitol Building in Springfield, IL. Students get to hear from a variety of speakers and participate in activities throughout the day.

Past YGD Speakers

High school students at Youth Government Day programs over the years have interacted with key elected officials, judges, political staff members, and others who play key roles in public policy.

Past speakers have included both established and up-and-coming leaders, such as:

  • Art Turner, Jr. (D)
  • Rep. Marcus Evans
  • Rep. John Anthony
  • Justin Nickels of Manitowoc, WI, nation’s youngest full-time elected mayor and first ran for city council as a high school senior
  • Jehan Gordon of Peoria, IL, who was first elected to the Illinois House of Representatives at age 27
  • Ray LaHood, former United States Secretary of Transportation and former congressman from Peoria, IL
  • Jim Edgar (R), who appeared soon after retiring as Governor of Illinois
  • Jim Ryan (R), who spoke as the sitting Illinois Attorney General
  • Dick Durbin (D), U.S. Senator from Illinois
  • Lisa Madigan (D), who appeared as both an Illinois State Senator and later as Illinois Attorney General
  • Clarence Harmon (D), who appeared as the former Mayor of St. Louis
  • Alexi Giannoulias (D), Illinois State Treasurer
  • Aaron Schock (R), who joined us as a member of the Illinois House of Representatives serving the Peoria area and who has since been elected to the U.S. Congress
  • Sheila Simon (D), who has since been elected Illinois Lt. Governor
  • Pat Quinn (D), Governor of Illinois
  • Barack Obama, who appeared as an Illinois State Senator and was later elected U.S. Senator from Illinois and then President of the United States
  • Phil Gillbert, U.S. Federal Judge, Southern Illinois District