About the Youth Commission
Walking through the Government Center cafeteria around 5pm on the 1st Wednesday of any month, May through June, you cannot help but notice a large group of teens and adults gathered. The energy levels are high, and the excitement is contagious. These inspiring young people are members of the Rochester-Olmsted Youth Commission, an intergenerational group of teens and whose work is supported through a partnership between the City of Rochester and Olmsted County. Youth Commissioners advocate for youth leadership and civic engagement in our community and have gone on to serve their communities locally and around the world in education, healthcare, business and government service. The Commission is a testament to the value our elected officials place in the capacity for youth to help shape a just and sustainable future.
Membership is open to any high school student or interested adult who lives in, or attends school in Olmsted County. Monthly meetings generally include a speaker on a topic of interest and most of their work is done in collaboration with other community or state-wide groups. The application process has been streamlined over the years to ensure a cross section of teens who bring a range of abilities, ethnicities, cultures, religions and points of view to the table. Many of the issues that are worked on are ongoing such as advocacy for mental health, homeless teens, job shadowing and renewable energy.
Below is a sample of Commission projects and activities we have worked on over the last year:
- Distributed voter registration information in partnership with Olmsted County Property Records and Licensing.
- Recruited teens to serve as Election Judges in partnership with the City Clerk’s Office.
- Advocated for improved mental health support in our schools and participants on the Mayo Clinic Pediatric Mental Health Task Force
- Hosted a Youth Climate Summit at Rochester Public Library and advocated for a 100% renewable energy plan in the City of Rochester
- Created a video for Climate Smart Communities illustrating youth interest in renewable energy
- Continued to partner with Friends of Indian Heights to clear invasive species from the park.
- Collected non-perishable food and hygiene items in partnership with HyVee Barlows.
- Working with our Public Health Department on the 2019 Community Health Improvement Plan
- Hosted the Tents of Witness Exhibit in partnership with the World Without Genocide located at the Mitchell Hamline School of Law and RPS Community Education
- Created a list of free WiFi spaces in Olmsted County for students without access
- Trips to the State Capitol and job shadowing of elected officials
- Membership on the Minnesota Youth Council, an advisory group to the MN State Legislature
- Recruited volunteers at Friendship Place, an after school program for children and teens
If you would like to learn more, contact Mary Gorfine, Program Coordinator at firstname.lastname@example.org.