HANFORD — It’s not out of the ordinary to hear the phrases “I make a motion to approve” and “I second that motion” at a Kings County Board of Supervisors meeting — except when those words are being spoken by teenagers.
That’s exactly what anyone visiting the board’s meeting on Tuesday morning would have seen and heard.
On Tuesday, the number of supervisors jumped to 10. There were also two county administrative officers and several department heads were doubled.
It was all part of the Les Collins’ Youth in County Government Day, which the county has been doing for several years.
Students from six high schools in Kings County were invited to job shadow county officials in several different departments, including the Sheriff's Office and District Attorney's Office.
Avenal High School couldn’t make it, but a combined 50 students from Hanford High, Hanford West, Sierra Pacific, Lemoore, Corcoran and Lemoore Middle College high schools all attended.
Board of Supervisors Chairman Richard Valle said the day gives students an opportunity to see the government in action at the county level.
“I think they do a lot of reading on state and national, but the county level is where a lot happens,” Valle said. “It’s good for them to come learn and see where we meet and even know about the Board of Supervisors and what we do and how the government operates in Kings County.”
It was the 10th year in a row that Valle’s son, 16-year-old Kobe Valle, visited on Youth in County Government Day to see what his dad does.
“It’s interesting,” Kobe said. “I get to see what my dad does every Tuesday, and I think it’s good to get people my age interested in this type of stuff.”
Supervisor Doug Verboon said there weren’t events like this when he was a kid, so he thinks it’s great to be able to introduce the young students into local politics and local government.
“It gets their minds working and lets them understand what’s happening in the community and maybe they can help in the future,” Verboon said.
Verboon said this day could even open students’ eyes to future career options within government.
“It gives them a broader spectrum of things that actually happen in the community and maybe gives them something to focus on,” Verboon said.
Inside the Community Development Department, Director Greg Gatzka went over some plans with Mabel Zamora.
Zamora, 18, attends Corcoran High School, and said it was the first time she has participated in Youth in County Government Day. She said she enjoyed the experience and appreciated the time all the county employees took out of their days to show the students around.
“I wish I would have done this when I was a freshman or sophomore,” Zamora said, adding she was interested in teaching as a career but was open to other options.
This was about the 10th year Gatzka has experienced Youth in County Government day, and it’s something he thinks is important in more ways than one for the students.
“It’s a very important program to involve our local high school youth in understanding more of what we do in government, but also to job shadow to see what kind of potential job opportunities might interest them as well,” Gatzka said.
Kobe, a sophomore at Corcoran High School, said even though he is more interested in a career in video game technology than government, he still looks forward to participating in the event every year.
“It’s a fun experience and informative,” Kobe said, adding he suggests the program to other students.