OSWEGO COUNTY, NY – Nearly three dozen students from around the county had the opportunity to see county government in action Thursday during the annual Government Day.
Organized each year through Cornell Cooperative Extension, the day serves each year as an opportunity for middle school students to spend the day with a legislator and take part in the process of Oswego County government.
Paul Forestiere, executive director at Oswego County’s cooperative extension site, explained that the students were given tours of various county departments, such as 911 and the district attorney’s office. Other highpoints of the day include lunch with legislators, a debate and action on a mock resolution and participation in a real Legislative session.
Forestiere noted that Government Day keeps with the educational mission of cooperative extension. Students who take part in the activities are responsible for reporting the information back to their respective schools.
“This group has been good,” Forestiere said. “We’ve had good discussion. … It has been a good time and theyÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‹Å“ve had a lot of fun.”
John “Jack” Proud, R-Mexico, spent a good deal of time with the group as they worked through a mock resolution and a discussion about the possibility of legislative action to bring wind power to Oswego County.
“We had really good participation this year,” Proud said. “At first, I wasn’t sure how it was going to go because they were kind of quiet.”
Proud said that the students were divided into three groups; those for wind power, those against and those who were undecided.
“The discussion was excellent,” Proud said. “The participation was very high. I hadn’t anticipated that it was going to go so well.”
Representing 34 districts, the students voted 22 to 12 in favor of bringing wind power to the county.
“It was really a good day,” Proud said. “The kids seemed to enjoy themselves and so dod the legislators.”
Proud said he has worked with students on government day for more than a decade.
“I usually research and develop the issues we discuss,” Proud said. “Ted (Jerrett) writes the resolution and I write the supporting information. We always try to focus on a major issue. We will continue to do that.”
A retired educator, Proud said he enjoys the opportunity to work with students again each year.
“It is a lot of fun for me,” he said. “For one day a year, I get to be in front of students again and the teacher in me comes back out.”
During Thursday’s legislative session, students were given the opportunity to cast votes on resolutions on behalf of the legislators they were paired with.
“It is great that we can do this for the kids,” said Oswego County Legislature Chairman Barry Leemann, R-Altmar. “The legislators enjoy it and I think that the kids get a lot of knowledge and encouragement from it.”
“Hopefully somewhere in this group of kids is a future county legislator,” Forestiere said.