2012-2013 Youth Governor Christopher Walker


Welcome! My name is Christopher Walker and  it is  my honor and privilege to serve as your 77th Youth Governor. If this is your first time in the program, you are in for an experience that you will never forget. You will join over 700 other delegates from all over the state to propose solutions to the major problems we face, have your opinions challenged and find out where you truly stand on the issues of our time, making  many new friends and having an unbelievable amount of fun along the way. You don't have to be the greatest debater or even the most politically informed student to benefit from and contribute to this program, to learn and to make your one and precious voice heard.

In Youth and Government you don't just talk about government, you live it. You'll be sitting in the same chambers where the New York State legislature sits, debating with the same procedure and maybe even get your bill to become real New York State law, which has happened more than 80 times in the past. You'll be arguing cases based on real New York State law and reporting in a place where news is made everyday. You won't just be making your voice heard, you'll be using it as a tool for change. It's a great experience and if you aren't a part of it yet all I can say to truly describe it is apply. The rest is up to you.

It was Ronald Reagan who said that “Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn’t pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected and handed on for them to do the same." People have called us the "absent generation," one that won't surpass our parents. Lets show them that our generation won't only inherit democracy, but make it better than its ever been before. Whether you are arguing a case, debating a bill, or writing an article, make the most of the opportunities this program offers. Youth an Government is one of the places where the leaders of tomorrow are made. Don't hesitate to contact me if you have any questions, comments, or concerns, I can't wait to see you all in March! Lets make the 77th conference the best one yet!

Christopher Walker

New York State Youth Governor

Director, New York State YMCA Youth and Government

Welcome to our Youth & Government program. This year we are celebrating our 77th consecutive year as a YMCA leadership programs that enhanced a teen’s enthusiasm for active citizenship, and where ideas are tested and friendships are forged. Join us for a challenge in discovering who you are among more than 700 other teenagers involved in this program statewide, meet others with a passion to sway tour opinion, foster new friendships with students from different schools, cities, towns and YMCA’s, and personally meet your local representatives defining issues you believe they should be addressing.

Within this site, you will  meet our officers who provide leadership to this program, district coordinators that can help you start your YMCA club, and renew acquaintances with alumni who continue providing servant leadership to their community. As divergent as our government, so too is this program that affords you, the teen, with an opportunity to explore varied levels of participation as a presiding officer, cabinet member, justice, attorney, legislator, lobbyist, press or legislative. Whatever specialty you choose, you will meet new people, be challenged, and leaven more about government citizenship through this fun, hands-on learning experience. This program’s success is integrally contingent upon the numerous people who volunteer time and provide financial resources affording all young people in New York State this opportunity to learn and grow. In you are an alumnus or are interesting in how you can support this important work of nurturing the growth of teenagers, please contact me and we can discuss how you can become involved. We need you!

"Nothing worth gaining is ever gained without effort.  The people who say that they have not time to attend to politics are simply saying that they are unfit to live in a free community." Teddy Roosevelt

Mark Rutkowski
Director, New York State YMCA Youth and Government
YMCA of Greater Rochester Teen Action Agenda
(585) 341-3235


Mark Rutkowski has been involved with this program for the past twenty-three years, serving the last five years as Director for the New York State program. He is currently employed by the YMCA of Greater Rochester, providing direction to their Teen Action Agenda including their Youth & Government program. For the past three years, he has been asked and served on the planning committee for the Youth Conference on National Affairs and the National Youth Governor’s Conference. In addition to being recognized as a recipient of the Dr. Paul M. Grist Service to Youth Award at the National Affairs Conference in 2004, Mark is a National YMCA Faculty Training for Y staff working with teens.