I’m Molly Barker and the 2020 Model Assembly was my fourth year in Youth in Government. When I was in eighth grade I was in leadership corps where you learn about the different parts of YIG including: legislature, courts, media, lobbyists and the executive branch. In ninth grade I had the opportunity to be an appointed official for the first time. I was the sergeant at arms for Humphrey House.

After having such a fantastic experience, I decided to apply for a position again. In 10th grade I was the secretary for Ramsey Senate and I got to sit on the rostrum and read all the bills and amendments. For the 2020 Model Assembly I finally got to be on the governor’s cabinet. I had the pleasure to be the commissioner of education. For the 2021 Model Assembly I have the pleasure of being a part of the Hastings Steering Committee and I plan on applying to be the clerk of Sanford House.

One of the most valuable lessons I’ve learned through all of these great opportunities is to put myself out there. When I first applied to be an appointed official in eighth grade, I didn’t think anything would come from it. But, by applying for that position, I have gained so much confidence in speaking with anyone including adults.

Through YIG I’ve been able to meet so many influential people in Minnesota government including three representatives and two senators. I even had the opportunity to meet with a real life lobbyist and testify in the real life education committee.

Molly Barker speaks to a group while pursuing a leadership position. Submitted photo
Molly Barker speaks to a group while pursuing a leadership position. Submitted photo

Something that is really cool about YIG is how 1,600 high schoolers are entrusted with amazing facilities. We are given the opportunity to go to arguably the best state capital in the nation to play pretend government. This opportunity is taken for granted by some, but it truly is an honor to sit in the seats where our own legislators sit. YIG also gets to use the State Office Building to carry out court cases and debate on national issues. However, not all 1,600 students can storm the Capital at once. The students who don’t go to the capital spend their weekend at the Hilton Hotel in Minneapolis. The recently renovated Hilton gives the conference a professional feel and look that every student makes sure they keep.

One of the best parts of YIG is how diverse it is. There are students ranging in ages 13-18, many different ethnicities, and so many different walks of life.

“My favorite part of YIG was meeting new people,” Eighth grader Emelia Larson said. “Honestly I thought not having friends from Hastings in my group would ruin my weekend but it was really fun.”

Advisors (from left to right) include: Nick Erickson (old Hastings Middle School teacher advisor), Levi O’Tool, Kaitlin O’Tool (YIG alums), Amy Rowan (YMCA delegation director), Brian Davis (YMCA sports director), Cassie O’Tool (volunteer), Ellie Childers (HMS promise fellow), Derek Fairbanks (Hastings High School teacher advisor) and Jim Hanson (HMS teacher advisor). Submitted photo
Advisors (from left to right) include: Nick Erickson (old Hastings Middle School teacher advisor), Levi O’Tool, Kaitlin O’Tool (YIG alums), Amy Rowan (YMCA delegation director), Brian Davis (YMCA sports director), Cassie O’Tool (volunteer), Ellie Childers (HMS promise fellow), Derek Fairbanks (Hastings High School teacher advisor) and Jim Hanson (HMS teacher advisor). Submitted photo

The cool thing about YIG is how everyone there chooses to be there so you get to make new friends who think just like you do.

“I love getting to meet so many new people and the opportunity to break out of my comfort zone in a way that is empowering.” Senior Claire Biscoe said.

I think it's amazing how so many people can come together, disagree on controversial topics, debate their way through tough conversations, and still leave friends. No matter how much YIG subtlety teaches us, it's the conversations and relationships that last.