Civic Engagement and Advocacy in Rural Wisconsin: Youth Development Through Legislative Forums

Doug Liphart, Neil James Klemme, Ian B. Meeker


Youth Development programming that engages youth to work side by side with local leaders creates an environment where youth develop civic skills. These skills include a greater understanding of the legislative process, their role in our democracy, and increased engagement in the democratic process. Through their participation in the Superior Days Legislative Forum, youth increase their civic skills, are inspired to create change in their communities, ask questions and respond to challenges by bringing legislative issues of concern unique to their community to the entire representative body at the state capitol. Youth delegates also gain experience partnering with adults from their communities, establish healthy developmental relationships, and expand their social networks. This article draws from research related to civic engagement, youth in decision-making roles, and programming intended to raise youth voice to make community change. This paper uses focus group interviews as well as post-then-pre-program surveys to understand the impact of the Superior Days Legislative Forum on youth participants.


civic engagement; social capital; civic skills; youth–adult partnerships

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