One of my favorite parts about working with the 4-H Youth Development program is that I have the opportunity to witness young people take an active role in shaping their futures with the support of positive and encouraging adults. A few weeks ago, we wrapped up the inaugural “Young Commissioners” youth leadership program where twelve 7th-10th grade participants learned about local government and college and career skills while also enhancing their own personal leadership capacity. This partnership between N.C. Cooperative Extension, 4-H Youth Development and the Lee County Commissioners proved to be an exciting two-week journey as well as a valuable and rewarding experience for the young participants.
What I also found through this project is just how much members of our community value the potential of these students and believe in the importance of nurturing and fostering the development of their potential as future leaders. The support this program received from those across Lee County was tremendous and each day was filled with educational workshops, tours and activities led by local individuals that are experts in their respected fields. I am so encouraged and inspired to live in a community that recognizes the importance of giving the next generation an opportunity to excel. Sometimes the difference in positively affecting the road that a young person travels in life comes down to a mentor, a relationship or simply someone giving them the confidence to dream something bigger than they ever have before.
I was so thrilled to see these young people develop a myriad of valuable leadership skills over the duration of the program, and equally elated to find so many willing volunteers in our community that saw value in giving of their time and talents to the next generation. This is an important lesson for us to remember, as we were all likely assisted by someone else along our way. Remember that each of us has something positive that we can pass along to the next generation to create a better future for all!
Bill Stone is 4-H Youth Development Agent for North Carolina Cooperative Extension in Lee County.