This is the official Tumblr for the PA Youth and Government Press Corps & Video Press Corps!

PA YAG Press Corps

Democracy is not a Spectator Sport

Various YAG Delegations are encouraged to organize candidate debates in their communities among candidates seeking public office. This is the ending snip of a debate held in Pittsburgh with D-party candidates seeking to be Mayor. Event’s moderator, Youth Governor, Erik Rauterkus. Questions came from other students. 

Be sure to watch at the 7:40 mark to hear some powerful closing remarks from Governor Rauterkus. Those words can be repeated by you at your debate too.

In 2013, plan for a debate before the May Primary. There is still some time. Or, plan a debate for September or October before the General Election. County, municipal and school directors are up for election. Jump into a heated race. Hold the candidates accountable — in your school’s auditorium. Organize your community. 

Are you “IN?”

Welcome to the 2013 PA YAG from Youth Governor, Erik Rauterkus. It is about ‘names.’

Change from Youth & Government to Youth IN Government.

Final Joint Session of 2013 PA YAG with a closing speech from Erik Rauterkus, PA Youth Governor.

Go to 10:20 mark to hear the speech from Erik.

Video has the last 30 minutes of the join session and plenty of awards.  

2013 Pre-Leg comes to a close!

Governor’s Candidate Town Hall Forum

Press Release from the Youth Governor

For the past two weeks, youth stretching from the west to the east of Pennsylvania have gathered together at the Pre-legislative and have continued to work with one another to strengthen bills, understand judicial cases, and share the experience of Youth and Government. Youth Governor Erik Rauterkus and the many leaders in statewide positions have worked long and hard since Model last year to improve the program for all those involved. Last year The Governor proposed YAG365. This was an idea that Youth and Government would be a body for real political change and community action. The Governor laid out a dream that if you were a youth in our state and wanted to serve your community, state, or country, YAG would be the place you would come. His biggest challenge for the youth involved with this program was that every club was to complete a service project this year. Many clubs have already taken that step and have completed a project to benefit their community.

To make this dream a reality, the youth leaders of this program collaborated to come up with tangible changes in the program. The first change that takes effect this year deals with the lobbyist. When model comes around, this group of delegates will spend their Thursday officer training putting together posters and pamphlets displaying the ideas and bills they will be supporting. When the rest of the delegates arrive on Friday, they will be welcomed by the lobbyists presenting their positions on bills so the sponsors know where to get support.

The next big change dealt with the press corps. This year the press moved into the 21st century by collaborating with the Video Press corps and creating video paper and online publications. The products of their hard work throughout the YAG events will result in recruitment tools, and tangible products to spread the word about Youth and Government.

The largest change this year was with the legislative branch of YAG. In the senate there are now party determination questionnaires implemented designed so delegates will be split by political views in the hopes that this will encourage better debate. Also the senate leaders and whips will be going up to Model on Thursday for officers training to help streamline the senate process. Lastly, there will now be an omnibus bill. This will allow bills that are unanimously supported, but would not create great debate to be passed in a package during the first legislative session.

This year in Youth and Government the student leaders are moving the program towards one that will create true change. YAG 365 introduced the ideals for this program in years to come, and throughout the past few months, club after club have taken in those ideas and made them a reality. Pennsylvania Youth and Government Clubs combined have raised over a thousand dollars with many hours of community service projects. This is the type of real change that Governor Erik Rauterkus is calling each member of Youth and Government to make. In response to how the changes in the program have been going, Governor Rauterkus said “I can truly say that we have started making a real difference already, but that we can do more. And we must, as a coalition of youth, work further to get more of us involved, and to continue the challenge of making a difference in our communities. Now is the time for us to make change and we can start here, with Youth and Government.”

Who’s Who?

Youth and Government consists of different branches all with one goal in mind: to improve our future through the youth’s voice.  The different branches make up the puzzle pieces to our government system.

Lobbyists promote bills that they feel benefit their group/category. Renee Eddy stated, “I had a lot of fun with it last year.” She has the opportunity to “lobby for things she’s passionate about.” Last year she lobbied for Educational bills, which she could relate to as a student.

Olivia Perfetti was an Attorney last year, but this year she decided to transfer to the Legislative branch. She heard it was “very enjoyable, and not stressful.” Last year as an Attorney it was a lot of stress and work. “It’s fun to be able to have freedom and choose the topic to debate over.” Olivia is going to lobby for ACLU.

 Lydia Mitchell stated, “Attorneys debate over one topic in fifteen minutes, Lobbyist debate a bunch of topics in a minute.” If you like to debate a lot of stuff in one area then you would like being a Lobbyist.

Most of YAG members have heard horror stories of the Supreme Court Justices, and if you’re new to YAG so will you. Three of the Justices are here today, Kylie Lemley, Devyn Lisi, and Jonathan Pijar. Kylie Lemley just wants to “do her job without being cruel.” She wants to “be helpful not scary.” She said, “the cases are different than previous years.” Kylie is interested to see what angles the Attorneys will use and where they will go. She was in admin from last year, and she “brought judicial back to her delegation.”

 Devyn Lisi’s major fear is to be the hated Justice. She’s tough, but she has Attorneys best interest on mind. This is her first year as Justice. When you apply for Justice you’re also interrogated. They ask you a range of questions from personal questions to weird questions. “They ask you questions that they think you should know, but you don’t.” One question was, “Who was your favorite Supreme Court Justice?”

Jonathan Pijar gave the advice to “study the case, be confident, and know what you’re doing.” Kylie and Devyn chimed in saying “Don’t be nervous, the Justices are just as scared.” To establish myth from fact, the Justices are really nice.

Of the six Attorneys, five of them are new. No one wants to be an Attorney because it’s “easy”.  In fact it’s a lot of work and stress, but if you enjoy debating and law, it will be a memorable experience. Jordan Palmer was greatly inspired to be an Attorney, from a retired judge at his church who had an interesting life. Ben Friedman was always “fascinated by the court system and how it works.” Ean Quick loves “history in general”, and in his ninth and tenth grade history classes, civics and US history, law kept popping up, and he thought becoming an Attorney would be “a great opportunity.” Hannah Anderson “grew up around it”, her family is in law, she’s been to court cases, and law eventually “grew on her.” LaTionna Russel, the only returning Attorney, enjoys “expressing my anger, which helps me answer more questions.”

Kyle Lewis, Committee Chair, has been in YAG for four years, and been a Committee Chair for two years now. Committee chair is like a mini floor session. It’s the “first legislature step” before it goes to the Senate or House of Representatives. Their goal is to pass and get bills through to the next step. They don’t necessarily debate on whether the bill is good or bad; they improve it and edit it to make it presentable to the floor. In their floor workshops they were in bill discussion groups and hopeful they will debate bills later in the day.

Second Generation Ellis

In Youth & Government, delegates can become legislators, as proven by Pennsylvania State Representative Brian Ellis (left).  Now, Justin Ellis, his son, is also a part of the program.

Representative Ellis started YAG in 9th grade and participated until his high school graduation. He had many accomplishments during this time, including being elected President of the Butler Delegation in his final year. Representative Ellis also ran for Youth Governor, though he came in second place. Following these four years, he became the co-advisor for the Butler Delegation and also attended CONA with this title.

Ever since Justin was little, Representative Ellis pushed him to join YAG. “I really got inspired to do it when I saw the YAG kids at the Butler Community Night sponsored by [Representative Ellis],” said Justin. He joined the Butler Delegation this year as an 8th grader. His favorite parts of the program are debating and writing the bills. Justin enjoys that he gets to do what his father does on a daily basis and also what he once did as a delegate himself.

Justin has ambiguous goals for his future in YAG. These include becoming President of the Butler Delegation and perhaps eventually Youth Governor. Also, during or upon finishing college, he will definitely be returning back to his club to help out. Being a part of YAG has helped him to stop procrastinating and improved his public speaking skills.

“YAG is my happy place… It’s really helped me a lot in life,” Justin commented. “I want to inspire kids to join YAG and prove this program’s important.”

Alexa Reynolds

Alexa Reynolds is a senior from the Rose E. Schneider delegation. In the Admin, she is the Secretary of Education and Youth.  Her job is to go to committees and persuade delegates to vote for her bills. He goal for this year’s model is to get her bills passed successfully.  She says that YAG has helped her become a better leader and speaker, and has given her good people skills. Alexa has just committed to Penn State University, where she plans to major in Business and Psychology.


Katie Vossler

Katie Vossler is a sophomore from the Butler YMCA delegation. She is an Administrative Assistant. Her responsibility is to talk to the press. Her goal for the Administration this year is to pass as many bills as possible and also reach out to the community. Personally, she wants to “get to know more people statewide.” YAG has helped her gain public speaking skills and made her more aware of political issues. Next year, she plans to run for Committee Chair.