Youth Forum
Image by Dena Altavila

Putnam County Youth Forum committee

Putnam County Youth Forum

VIRTUAL Putnam County Youth Forum

The Putnam County Youth Forum is a collaborative, educational conference, for Putnam High School Students, hosted by Cornell Cooperative Extension of Putnam County's 4-H Youth Development Program and the Putnam County Youth Bureau.

For 25 years, The Putnam County Youth Forum has been a day-long, school supported, educational field trip – held at a local community venue (Camp Herrlich in 2019), with approximately 130 Putnam High School students attending annually.

In response to the Covid19 Coronavirus crisis, we have re-created the Youth Forum in a NEW Virtual Format. A variety of teen-focused online workshops, led by community professionals, will now be offered throughout the month of March; held at different times on different days. 

Putnam High School Students, with parental permission, can participate in as many Zoom Workshops as they choose, throughout the month of March, based on the topics that interest them. All of the workshop topics were identified and selected by the student-led planning committee members which represent Brewster, Carmel, Haldane, Mahopac & Putnam Valley High Schools.

Community Service Credit will be given to all Putnam High School Youth who register for and [virtually] attend any/all of the workshop. Please Note: Attendance will be taken at the beginning of the workshop and we request that cameras remain on for the duration of each workshop. Youth Forum workshops are ONLY intended for Students in Grades 9-12.

2021 Putnam County Virtual Youth Forum, choose from the workshops below:


MONDAY, MARCH 1st4:00pm
Self-Defense & Standing Up to Bullies
: This workshop will demonstrate some basic selfdefense skills and help students identify situations when self-defense techniques may need to be used. By participating in this workshop, students will increase their selfconfidence and learn how to stand up to bullies. About the Presenter: Master C. Castrovinchi is a 5th Degree Black Belt and life-long practitioner of Taekwondo. He recently opened his own United Martial Arts Center (UMAC) in Dutchess County. Taekwondo is the style of martial arts practiced by UMAC students. When all students are working together to accomplish a common vision, the atmosphere is astounding! The positive environment at UMAC is fostered and shared by all Masters, Instructors and Students alike through genuine enthusiasm and caring that is reinforced by showing mutual respect and appreciation. 
REGISTER HERE for Self-Defense & Standing Up to Bullies

College - the Next Chapter
: Getting ready for college? You might be unsure of your next steps. So check out this workshop. Learn how to apply for schools, scholarships and important things to look for in the selection process. About the Presenter: Stephanie Mauro is the owner and founder of College Planning 101. With 10+ years of college planning experience, Stephanie has helped hundreds of families get their students into the “right” college at the “right” price for their budget. Stephanie has helped thousands of students and their families understand the challenges of managing the college application process and navigate financial aid. 

REGISTER HERE for College – The Next Chapter

MONDAY, MARCH 8th – 4:00pm
Understanding Implicit Bias
: This one-hour workshop on inclusive peer engagement creates a dedicated space for teen to reflect on their own personal bias and discover practices of debiasing. This workshop will be interactive with peer discussion, polling activities and breakout groups. About the Presenters: Dr. Lisa Sanon-Jules oversees the day-to-day Honors College advising operations, and administers, maintains, and enhances academic programs and activities offered through the Honors College. Previously, she served as Assistant Dean of the School of Arts and Sciences Honors Program, Interim Director of the Ronald E. McNair Post-Baccalaureate Achievement Program, and as Senior Counselor with Rutgers’ Educational Opportunity Fund Program. P Laura Eppinger is the Salem County 4-H Agent for the Department of 4-H Youth Development at Rutgers University. She focuses on programming in teen leadership, healthy living, and mindfulness. Serafina Smith is an Assistant Dean of Recruitment and Advising at Rutgers University for the School of Environmental and Biological Sciences. Renowned for her prowess in building community relations, Serafina manifests a profound proclivity and commitment to creating partnerships with school systems to build pipeline programs for youth to make higher education opportunities an accessible reality for them. Marissa Staffen is a County 4-H Agent at the Department of 4-H Youth Development at Rutgers University. She runs a comprehensive youth development program in primarily urban communities in New Jersey.

REGISTER HERE for Understanding Implicit Bias

TUESDAY, MARCH 9th – 7pm
How to be an Ally to LGBTQ+ in Our Communi
ty: What does it mean to be an ally? In this workshop, take part for an open discussion on how to effectively support the LGBTQ+ community. About the Presenter: Gina Sanchirico is the Professional Development Co-Chair of GLSEN (Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network) of the Lower Hudson Valley. GLSEN is a national organization fighting for every student’s right to a safe, supportive education. GLSEN Hudson Valley is a grassroots initiative, working locally in our community to ensure safe schools for all students, regardless of sexual orientation and gender identity. There are 43 Chapters around the country doing this important work.

REGISTER HERE for How to be an Ally to LGBTQ+ in Our Community

MONDAY, MARCH 15th 4:00pm
Making Sense of the Chaos in your Head
: Attend this workshop to learn about mental health, stress and anxiety. Discover some self-care tips and healthy coping skills from a professional. Explore community resources as well as ways to help yourself and those around you. About the Presenters: Amanda Boccardi is the CCSI Team Coordinator at CoveCare Center and works part-time with Family Support & Outreach Services for the Mental Health Association in Putnam County. CoveCare Center provides mental health, substance use, and supportive services for adults, children, families, and seniors. Our innovative, compassionate approach to care fosters healing, recovery, and wellness. As a nonprofit organization with a commitment to ensuring affordability and access, CoveCare Center is dedicated to improving lives in communities throughout the Lower Hudson Valley. The Mental Health Association in Putnam County, Inc. is a non-profit organization whose mission is to promote a vision of recovery for individuals and families coping with mental health issues in our community. This is accomplished through several specialized, community-based programs. 

REGISTER HERE for Making Sense of the Chaos in your Head

TUESDAY, MARCH 16th – 7pm
How to Get More Done in Less Time (Time Management & Productivity)
: In this workshop you will learn how to manage your time efficiently, get organized and find new ways to be more productive. You can learn how to prioritize your tasks and maximize your time by making and following a schedule. About the Presenters: Melissa LaChapelle is a Prevention Educator Supervisor for CoveCare Center, Carmel NY. She and her team provide Prevention Education to various schools in Putnam County. She has a Masters in Science and Education and a certification in School Counseling. Erica Gulkis is a Prevention Educator for CoveCare Center and works with Melissa. 

REGISTER HERE for How to Get More Done in Less Time (Time Management & Productivity)

MONDAY, MARCH 22nd – 4:00pm 

Climate Change – Reducing Your Carbon Footprint: Do you want to act to reduce the harmful effects of climate change but don’t know how? Take this workshop! The presenter will provide various resources and suggestions in the direction of lowering your carbon footprint and different ways you can support the environment. For example, you will learn how to compost and where you can buy materials to get started. About the Presenter: Joe Montuori taught Environmental Studies and Sustainability at Horace Greely High School in Westchester County. He recently started a nonprofit organization called Sustainable Putnam. The mission of this nonprofit is to develop sustainable communities across Putnam County — ecologically sound, socially equitable, and economically responsible — today and for future generations.

REGISTER HERE for Climate Change – Reducing Your Carbon Footprint

TUESDAY, MARCH 23rd – 7pm
Understanding Eating Disorders
: In this workshop you will learn how to recognize different signs of eating disorders, how to support someone with an eating disorder and how to get help. This workshop will also provide various resources you can reach out to when encountering the issue. About the Presenter: Julia DePinto is a Program Coordinator at Green Chimneys. Green Chimneys is a multi-faceted nonprofit organization helping young people to maximize their full potential by providing residential, educational, clinical and recreational services, in a safe and supportive environment that nurtures connections with their families, the community, animals and nature.

REGISTER HERE for Understanding Eating Disorders


PARENTS - PLEASE NOTE: We have taken a variety of steps to ensure the online safety & security of your child. All workshops are led by community professionals and moderated by Cornell Cooperative Extension or Youth Bureau staff. 


* When logging into Zoom before each workshop, please change your name & USE FIRST NAME ONLY.

* A Zoom Meeting Code will be emailed to you within (2) days of the workshop.

* Be respectful of the Presenter and Your Peers: 

  • Discussions that take place during the Youth Forum are confidential. Please respect your peers! 
  • Stay muted unless talking
  • Share thoughts & questions about the topic at hand via Chat Box
  • Be courteous & respectful, especially when using technology 
  • Limit any distractions (e.g., do not make silly faces, make sure nothing is happening in your background, etc.) 

* Please download Zoom on your device before the workshop begins. Parental permission is required for you to register for each workshop.


Dena Altavilla
4-H Youth & Family Development Program Director
845-278-6738 ext. 215

Last updated February 18, 2021