Capitol PhotoWhat is KYG and Why Do We Have It?

Know Your Government (KYG) is a civic education program with a four-year rotating topic:  The Legislative System, The Judicial System, Elections and Party Platforms, and Politics and the Media. This year we will explore the topic of elections and party platforms. It is important to remember though, that KYG is much more than learning different ways to vote or the purpose of political parties.  In fact, one could argue that it is little about that.  KYG and 4-H are about learning the life skills our delegates will need to be responsible citizens and productive adults.  The conference is an opportunity for delegates to practice the skills they have learned, apply their knowledge to unknown situations and reflect on how they did.

Pre-conference meetings

Purpose: teach the skills, provide the tools, and prepare for the project at the KYG Conference.

Participants will learn how to work as part of a team, with people they may or may not know, to get the pre-conference objectives completed.  The pre-conference meetings are a way for delegates to hone these skills so when they get to the conference, they will be prepared to learn the new skills, practice and apply already learned skills, and work with more people they do not know in a mock trial setting. Perhaps even more important than this, they will have an experience that is similar (not necessarily identical) to those of other delegates. Similar experiences will provide a common foundation for all delegates, regardless of geographic, political or other differences.

Learning something new and working with other delegates with different perspectives can be uncomfortable.  Pre-conference meetings are a way to help delegates feel comfortable about what will be happening at the conference so they feel safe to experience something new.


The statewide conference in Olympia

Purpose: bring high school students from across the state to share ideas, concerns, and potential solutions to problems; to learn about Washington State government and how to become a positive contributing citizen; and to strengthen the connection between youth and our political and social networks through education, experience, application, and inspiration

A value of 4-H KYG is that it provides the opportunity for our delegates to explore new ideas and perspectives in a safe environment.  We encourage delegates with different views to work together, not to change each other’s minds, but to learn from each other.  Encouraging discussion when people disagree and providing an opportunity to explore the issue in a non-threatening way demonstrates to the delegates that they can disagree on an issue but still work together.  Ideally, these discussions will help delegates explore why they carry a certain belief and assist them in putting their own beliefs into practice. Remember, one of the intentional life skills we are focusing on this year is communication.

At the conference this year, each delegate will participate in a mock trial by serving as an attorney, a witness, a juror, or a reporter.  Volunteer judges and attorneys will fill the judge roles, conference facilitators will serve as clerks, and chaperones will serve as bailiffs and the courtroom audience.  Each courtroom will have approximately six attorneys (three for each side), six witnesses (three for each side, this includes the defendant), a minimum of twelve jurors, and four reporters.  We anticipate filling eight courtrooms and using four different cases.  This means more than one courtroom will be hearing the same case.  It will be interesting to see how the verdicts compare in the different courtrooms.

What is the Vision and Mission of the Know Your Government Conference?

Vision Statement: The 4-H Know Your Government Conference empowers youth and adults to engage in leadership, citizenship and life skill development and application. 

Mission Statement: The Know Your Government (KYG) Conference serves to strengthen the connection between youth and our political and social networks through education, experience, application, and inspiration. The civic focus topic and activities experienced through the KYG program are all vehicles to provide the opportunity and framework to develop these values:

  • inquiry
  • regard for others
  • respect/cultural competence
  • positive communication
  • strengthening personal values

Educational Objectives

During pre-conference county orientation meetings, participants will learn about the Washington State judicial branch of government and how it works interactively with the executive and legislative branches. In addition, delegates will become familiar with:

  1. different kinds of cases
  2. Washington’s five courts and their jurisdiction
  3. the trial process
  4. resolving conflicts
  5. the roles and purpose of those in a mock trial

At the February conference, teens will take on the roles of attorney, defendant, witness, juror, or reporter, as they participate in a mock trial with a ‘real’ judge.

From orientation training & conference participation, WSU KYG believes delegates will have the opportunity to learn all or some of the following:

  1. Gain knowledge of the Washington State Judicial System: how it works and how a citizen functions within it
  2. Review the five courts in Washington State and their jurisdictions
  3. Realize that democracy requires responsible citizenship/participation
  4. Learn about various trials and their purpose and process
  5. Understand the roles of the players within a trial
  6. Increase awareness: the law may differ from personal feelings & these feelings do not outweigh evidence when deciding the verdict of a case
  7. Knowledge of his or her state legislative district and an awareness of issues that affect that district
  8. Strengthen focused life skills:
    • critical thinking: Developing strategies for analyzing comparing reasoning and reflecting to discover meaning and direction when deciding what to believe or do
    • communication: Clearly stating my thoughts, feelings, and ideas to others, settling disagreements in ways that are not hurtful; listening carefully to what others say
    • positive citizenship: Developing individual devotion in response to duties, rights & privileges as a member of a community or county

A Special Thanks to our KYG Sponsors:


Washington State University