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September 18, 2018

Middle Schoolers Get Firsthand Glimpse of Government In Action


Oswego County Legislature recognized May 15 as County Government Day during its monthly meeting.

Oswego County Legislature recognized May 15 as County Government Day during its monthly meeting.
This annual program is offered by Cornell Cooperative Extension of Oswego County to give local students the opportunity to learn about their government.
Oswego County Legislature Chairman Kevin Gardner, District 13, presented the proclamation to CCE Executive Director Paul A. Forestiere II.
From left are Sherry Timm, CCE; Cindy Walsh, CCE; Chairman Gardner; Baxter Mason, student; Forestiere; and Jayden Powell, Pulaski High School senior and student in the New Visions law and government program through Oswego County BOCES who was job-shadowing Forestiere.

OSWEGO, NY – Nearly three dozen students from around the county took control of the May meeting of the Oswego County Legislature. They came in as students and left as teachers.

Local Students Learn About County Government Seventh grade students from throughout the county spent a day in Oswego with their county legislator during the annual County Government Day program.  Pictured from left to right are: Zachary Martin; Margaret Kastler, District 1; Margery Yousey; Sterling Coles; Milferd Potter, District 2; Anthony Frank; Courtney Burns; Shawn Doyle, District 3; Samantha Hefti; Lara Kinney; David Holst, District 4; Kobe Harrington; Roy Reehil, District 5; and Brooke Kellison.

Pictured from left to right are: Zachary Martin; Margaret Kastler, District 1; Margery Yousey; Sterling Coles; Milferd Potter, District 2; Anthony Frank; Courtney Burns; Shawn Doyle, District 3; Samantha Hefti; Lara Kinney; David Holst, District 4; Kobe Harrington; Roy Reehil, District 5; and Brooke Kellison.

The students sat with their legislator counterparts and cast their votes during the meeting.

Paul A. Forestiere II, executive director of Oswego County Cooperative Extension, helped organize the annual event.

“I am absolutely thrilled at the number of people who have come here today for Oswego County Youth Government Day. Look at this place, it’s packed!” Forestiere quipped at the meeting.

Students Engage In Debate Seventh grade students from throughout the county spent a day in Oswego with their county legislator during the annual County Government Day program.  Pictured from left to right are: Kayla Horne; John Martino, District 6; Kimberly Heagerty; John Proud, District 7; Sheila Wallis; Daniel LeClair, District 8; Isabella Russ; James Weatherup, District 9; Morgan Russ; Robert Hayes, Sr., District 10; and Mark Zogg.

Pictured from left to right are: Kayla Horne; John Martino, District 6; Kimberly Heagerty; John Proud, District 7; Sheila Wallis; Daniel LeClair, District 8; Isabella Russ; James Weatherup, District 9; Morgan Russ; Robert Hayes, Sr., District 10; and Mark Zogg.

While there were nearly three dozen students from around the county taking part in the meeting, the packed house probably had to do with some of the other things on the legislators’ agenda he acquiesced.

“Today is a day for us to give young people an opportunity to learn first-hand about American government,” he said. “All of the children that you see here today are children that have been picked by their school in a variety of different ways. The only thing that we ask of them is when they go back to their school is that they take some time to talk with their classmates and with their teachers and with other people. The role here is kind of train the trainer. We want them to go back and talk about what they’ve done, what they’ve learned today.”

Pictured from left to right are: Owen Ayotte; Linda Lockwood, District 11; Aaron Dedich; Richard Kline, District 12; Matthew Francis; Baxter Mason; Oswego County Legislature Chairman Kevin Gardner, District 13; Abby Reith; Stephen Walpole, District 14; Jillian Dowdle; and Jacob Mulcahey, District 15.

Pictured from left to right are: Owen Ayotte; Linda Lockwood, District 11; Aaron Dedich; Richard Kline, District 12; Matthew Francis; Baxter Mason; Oswego County Legislature Chairman Kevin Gardner, District 13; Abby Reith; Stephen Walpole, District 14; Jillian Dowdle; and Jacob Mulcahey, District 15.

The students took an active part in a mock debate (regarding oil being discovered under Lake Ontario and whether off-shore drilling should be allowed).

In the end, the no votes came out on top, according to Legislator Jack Proud, facilitator of the event.

“We had a spirited debate with great participation,” he said.

Earlier in the day, they also toured the Oswego County Justice Center, including 911 and the courts.

Pictured from left to right are: Amy Tresidder, District 16; Lara Kanbur; Shane Broadwell, District 17; Sofia Proano; Michael Kunzwiler, District 18; Josh Thomas; Marie Schadt, District 19; and Melissa Chun.

Pictured from left to right are: Amy Tresidder, District 16; Lara Kanbur; Shane Broadwell, District 17; Sofia Proano; Michael Kunzwiler, District 18; Josh Thomas; Marie Schadt, District 19; and Melissa Chun.

When they got back, many of the students were asking a lot of questions, Forestiere said.

“Their brains were really moving,” he said. “And the (other) thing that absolutely blew me away was when I asked for a show of hands for how many kids knew about the 4-H program, about half the youth in this room raised their hand. So … that means we’re making great in-roads because more and more people are starting to recognize that the world’s largest youth development organization is here in Oswego County.”

Pictured from left to right are: Terry Wilbur, District 21; Zack Gombas; Wendy Burch; Morris Sorbello, District 23; Steven Thompson; Daniel Farfaglia, District 24; Erin Waloven; Frank Castiglia, Jr., District 25; and Kaylee Waugh.

Pictured from left to right are: Terry Wilbur, District 21; Zack Gombas; Wendy Burch; Morris Sorbello, District 23; Steven Thompson; Daniel Farfaglia, District 24; Erin Waloven; Frank Castiglia, Jr., District 25; and Kaylee Waugh.

During the legislature meeting, the students sat with their respective legislator and took part in casting votes on the day’s resolutions.

“I liked it. It was fun and we learned a lot,” said ‘chairman’ Baxter Mason. “The legislators made it a very real experience for us.” During the meeting he assisted Chairman Kevin Gardner in running the meeting.

However following the meeting, he added that politics likely weren’t in his future.

County Legislature Chairman Kevin Gardner watches as his student counterpart, Baxter Mason, helps run May's meeting. Looking on at left is County Administrator Phil Church.

County Legislature Chairman Kevin Gardner watches as his student counterpart, Baxter Mason, helps run May’s meeting. Looking on at left is County Administrator Phil Church.

He said he wants to be a marine biologist.

“It was a good experience,” said Legislator Richard Kline’s student counterpart for the day Matthew Francis. “We learned a lot about county government and other stuff, too.”

“They are doing a good job, a very good job,” Chairman Gardner said. “They’re a very enthusiastic group this year, honor roll students.”

“We’ve had a great day. We really have a good group of students this year,” Forestiere told the legislature. “They are really interested; they want to know what’s going on and they want to become involved.”

Paul A. Forestiere II, executive director of Cornell Cooperative Extension of Oswego County, discusses the importance of teaching young people about county government at the Oswego County Legislature’s May meeting. This is one of many programs offered by the organization to enhance the education of Oswego County youth. For more information about the program, call Cornell Cooperative Extension of Oswego County at 963-7286.

Paul A. Forestiere II, executive director of Cornell Cooperative Extension of Oswego County, discusses the importance of teaching young people about county government at the Oswego County Legislature’s May meeting. This is one of many programs offered by the organization to enhance the education of Oswego County youth. For more information about the program, call Cornell Cooperative Extension of Oswego County at 963-7286.

He urged the legislators to look at the students in the room. Some of them just might wind up in public service in the future, he noted.

“The reality is, you are looking at the next generation. And maybe by exposing them to what we have today, maybe we can get some of the young people to say, ‘yes, I would like to do that,’” he said.

He thanked the county and his staff for all the hard work that went into making the day possible.

“Our mission is to educate. That’s what we do; we educate, real world, real time,” he said. “This is what it’s all about.”

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