County Youth Bureau celebrates Youth-in-Government Day

Warwick. Gary Polakoff from Warwick Valley High School was chosen to shadow the county executive.

| 12 Apr 2024 | 11:50

On Friday, April 5, Orange County hosted 90 students from 12 local school districts at the County’s Government Center as part of its Youth-in-Government program.

The Orange County Youth Bureau and Orange/Ulster BOCES co-host Youth-in-Government Day which highlights the continued commitment and support local schools and officials have in developing young leaders from around the County.

“The youth that participate in this program each year are top notch students who will achieve great things. They are engaged and focused, curious, and confident,” Orange County Executive Steve Neuhaus said. “This year, they had the added excitement of dealing with an earthquake! I thoroughly enjoyed the time I spent with these great young men and women, and I hope that all the students and government staff who participated had a great day. We are proud of these students and our partnership with Orange/Ulster BOCES.”

Two students were assigned to the County Executive’s Office as part of Friday’s program. Gary Polakoff from Warwick Valley High School and Eva DeMarco from Washingtonville High School shadowed County Executive Neuhaus.

The 12 districts that participated in Youth-in-Government Day included Cornwall, James I. O’Neill, Marlboro, Middletown, Minisink, Newburgh, Pine Bush, Port Jervis, S.S. Seward, Valley Central, Warwick, and Washingtonville. Students spent the morning shadowing representatives from 22 Orange County departments, including: Emergency Services, Health, Mental Health, Office for the Aging, Social Services, Probation, and the Youth Bureau. A few student participants were elected to positions such as county executive, district attorney, sheriff, and county, family, supreme, and surrogate court judges.

Students also debated current issues and participated in a special mock session with the Orange County Legislature at the Government Center.

“As the Orange County Youth Bureau wraps up its 45th anniversary year, it is exciting to see programs like Youth-in-Government Day going strong after so many years. We appreciate the partnership with Orange-Ulster BOCES for this exciting program that matches up students with elected County officials and representatives from County Departments,” said Orange County Youth Bureau Executive Director Rachel Wilson. “We are also thankful for our colleagues who helped provide the youth with such a positive, first-hand experience of what it is like to work in public service.”

Youth-in-Government Day is a part of the Youth-In-Government Program coordinated by Orange/Ulster BOCES in partnership with schools throughout the County. The program provides students with the opportunity to learn firsthand about the democratic process and encourages students to become active participants in government.

Wilson encouraged students to continue exploring their interest in government by applying to the Summer Youth Government Immersion Program coordinated by the Orange County Youth Bureau. This free program provides unpaid volunteer experience for high school students who are current sophomores, juniors or graduating seniors. Contact the Youth Bureau at 845-615-3620 or visit to learn more.