March 28, 2012

Youth Government Day is March 31 in Springfield

by Pete Rosenbery

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- Two of the state’s young leaders will share their perspectives about politics and public service on Saturday, March 31, at the 12th annual Youth Government Day, sponsored by Southern Illinois University Carbondale’s Paul Simon Public Policy Institute.

Republican Cody Hendricks, a member of the Pekin City Council, and Winston Taylor, a Democratic candidate earlier this month for the 96th Illinois House District seat, will speak to approximately 200 high school students from across the state at the Illinois State Capitol in Springfield.

Media Advisory

Reporters, photographers and camera crews are welcome to cover any and all events of this year’s Youth Government Day.  For more information, contact Matt Baughman, associate director of the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute, at 618/201-0082 or by email at

The event allows high school students to become aware of how they can have a positive impact on their community and on the political process, and also inspire them to explore careers in government, public policy, politics and related fields. The late Institute founder and U.S. Sen. Paul Simon started Youth Government Day to motivate Illinois high school students to enter government service and politics.

The event is from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.  Optional independent tours of the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum will be from 2:30 to 5 p.m.

“The civic education of students is a big part of the mission of the Institute,” said David Yepsen, Institute director.  “ With so many people turned off by government and politics, it is good to reach out to young people and try to inspire and interest them.  The problems facing communities, Illinois and the country aren’t going to be solved by young people walking away.  They’re going to be fixed by harnessing their fresh ideas and energy and Youth Government Day attempts to do that.”

Youth Government Day was one of the Institute’s first initiatives, and Simon saw it as a way to introduce high school students to government, politics and public service, Yepsen said.  From tours of the state capitol building -- which is a first for many students -- to the motivational talks by keynote speakers and Republican and Democrat legislative staff members, students “come away inspired and a bit more interested in politics and public service,” Yepsen said.

Hendricks will present “You’re Not Too Young” during the morning session.  Hendricks became the youngest person elected to the Pekin City Council in April 2011 while an 18-year-old senior at Pekin Community High School.  A freshman at Eureka College, Hendricks is majoring in political science and history, and secondary education.  He began his involvement with the Institute through his participation in the Youth Government Day program.  Hendricks began his political career at a young age: he founded a Teenage Republican Club at his high school; was named to the Tazewell County Republican Executive Committee; and later was appointed statewide chair of the Teenage Republicans by Illinois Republican Party chair Pat Brady.

Taylor, a one-time state legislative liaison for the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency, will present “Follow Your Passion” during the afternoon session.   Reports indicate that Taylor, who lives in Springfield, trails by 70 votes in the race for state representative, and that there are possibly as many as 151 votes to count from the March 20 primary.  The deadline for counting absentee ballots is April 3.  The race covers parts of Sangamon, Macon and Christian counties.

Taylor grew up in Decatur and graduated from Mount Zion High School, playing football at the University of Illinois, and also in NFL Europe for the Miami Dolphins’ organization.

The schedule is:

  • 9 a.m. -- Welcoming remarks, David A. Yepsen, director, Paul Simon Public Policy Institute. House of Representatives chamber.
  • 9:05 a.m. -- Keynote speaker, Cody Hendricks, Pekin City Council member will present “You’re Not Too Young.”
  • 10 a.m. – Breakout sessions where students rotate through presentations in the Illinois House and Illinois Senate chambers, and the old Illinois Supreme Court room. 
  • 1 p.m. -- Keynote speaker, Winston Taylor, Democratic primary candidate, 96th Illinois House District will present “Follow Your Passion.”
  • 2 p.m. -- Closing remarks, Linda Baker, Institute/University professor, Paul Simon Public Policy Institute.
  • 2:30 p.m. -- Independent tours of the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum.

For more information on this or other Institute programs, contact the Institute at 618/453-4009, or visit