Minnesota YMCA Youth in Government is a youth-led, experiential learning opportunity that involves 2,500 middle-school and high school students each year. It is a nation-wide program, active in nearly 40 states. Across the country almost 25,000 students attend state Youth in Government conferences each year, with 3,300 adult volunteers and YMCA staff serving as advisors.


It is the mission of Minnesota YMCA Youth in Government programs to develop personal growth and encourage life-long, responsible citizenship by providing experiential learning for young people and by providing public forums to recognize the abilities and capabilities of youth.

Through YIG you have the opportunity to:

  • Join youth leaders from around the state to debate issues that are important to you.
  • Listen to delegates with different experiences.
  • Research public issues and become aware of local, state, national and international concerns.
  • Accept your civic responsibilities and your leadership role.
  • Let your voice be heard and get involved in the decision-making process!

Minnesota is among the top programs in the nation, both in terms of quality and number of students.  60% of participants and 55% of youth program leaders are female. Nearly two-thirds of all eligible students return the next year. Red Wing represents the second largest Youth in Government contingent in Minnesota, with 100 students annually participating.  Youth in Government is open to all 8th through 12th graders.

As a student in Youth in Government, you'll meet roughly five times during the school year leading up to the main event: a four-day forum in January at the state Capitol in St. Paul. During these four days, your group will participate in a mock legislative session and use all the facilities our state legislators use. You might be the Youth Governor, a cabinet member, state representative, state Supreme Court judge, or journalist. In your chosen role, you may research topics of public concern, hear arguments, prepare and read briefs, and/or debate your position to the assembly. The program is almost completely student run and does not promote any political party. 

What makes Youth in Government so special? There's no other experience quite like it. You learn first-hand about the lawmaking process, experience how to take an active role in public issues, and find out how to be an even better citizen. Students tell us it builds self-confidence, improves public speaking skills, and makes you aware of how our country really works. Plus, it's a whole lot of fun!