Students See County Government First Hand at Youth Day

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(Crystal A. Proxmire, April 29, 2016)

Pontiac, MI – It’s a safe bet to say that most adults have never attended a meeting of County Commissioners or gotten an up close and personal lesson in civics from a team of elected officials. But that is what happened for students from throughout Oakland County at Monday’s annual Youth in Government Day.

The teens were treated to talks by officials like Sheriff Mike Bouchard, Clerk Lisa Brown, Prosecutor Jessica Cooper, and Deputy County Executive Phil Bertolini.  They also got a more in depth presentation about water quality from Water Resources Commissioner Jim Nash and Health and Human Services Director Geroge Miller.  Plus there was a visit with Judge Nanci Grant in her courtroom.  The kids learned that there are 82 departments and divisions in Oakland County Government.

GT ad 04The students also sat through a Governance Committee meeting, where a group of Commissioners talk about issues that may or may not go to the entire Commission for a vote.  Commissioner Christine Long explained that much of the work and discussion happens in the committee process.

Among the topics covered at the meeting was a vote on putting the Detroit Zoo Millage on the ballot and a resolution supporting testing water in schools for lead.

“So much goes on behind the scenes,” said Olivia Upham of Oxford.  “I was surprised at the zoo and how many times it has to get voted on.”  Upham was also interested in learning about voting from Clerk Brown, but was disappointed that she turns 18 just a matter of days after the Presidential election.  As the students had lunch with their Commissioners, Brown went through the room registering eligible students – those who would be 18 by MBREW draft oneElection Day – to vote.

“I’m surprised not many people go to meetings,” said Makalya Marshall of Lenoard.  “People should share their opinions.”  Marshall found the water discussion interesting, saying “I didn’t know how it’s not required to test the water.  In some schools it should be.”

Marcus McDaniel, a social studies teacher at Pontiac High School, said students are concerned about water quality.  “There’s a fear of what’s going on in Pontiac based off what’s going on in Flint.  I’m happy to hear they’re going to test through Oakland County.  He [Nash] hit the nail on the head when he said its a US issue regarding the old infrastructure.”  McDaniel’s hope is that students who learned about testing procedures and risk of contamination will be able to share what they learned with other students who may have similar worries.

Chamber_AD2_rainbowrunIn addition to learning about how government works, leaders encouraged the kids to look at professions in government and in the skilled trades.  “I know plumbers who make more than me,” said Bertolini, who helps run economic development initiatives for the County.  He also encouraged people to go into the field of cyber security because that will be an ever-evolving and necessary profession.

Part of the work executives do is looking at the economic needs of the County and trying to work with businesses and schools to make sure there is enough training, and that businesses moving to Oakland County have access to qualified employees. There are programs to help people find work, programs to help employers find workers, programs to attract new businesses, and people constantly researching the needs of the community and the economy.  sideADpink

Students from Birmingham, Clarkston, Ferndale,  Farmington, Milford, Oak Park, Oxford, Pontiac, Royal Oak, Southfield,  Walled Lake and White Lake took part in the annual Youth in Government Day.  To learn more about Oakland County government visit www.oakgov.com.

Check out previous Youth in Government Day stories at http://oaklandcounty115.com/?s=youth+government.

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