PHOTO: Hayley Pierce, Jefferson County Cooperative Extension Service
They came from opposite ends of the state and from different environments, but what united the young Kentuckians visiting Frankfort was the opportunity to develop their leadership skills and gain knowledge to make their communities better.
The youth from Butler Traditional High School in Louisville and Crittenden County High School toured the Capitol and spoke with their local legislators as part of the Youth Engagement Leadership Program. The program is a part of the University of Kentucky’s Community and Economic Development Initiative of Kentucky in the College of Agriculture, Food and Environment.
In the program, young people learn how local businesses and local and state governments are important to thriving communities. They also gain leadership, entrepreneurial and communication skills that can make them active, engaged citizens in their communities.
This was the first year both schools have participated in the program. Ivory Rollins, Butler’s youth services coordinator, found out about the program through the Jefferson County Cooperative Extension Service when she was looking for leadership opportunities for her students.
“I feel like we were able to develop and maintain a lot of positive relationships in our community,” Rollins said. “We were able to do a theme every month and based on that theme, identify leaders that were in and around our community. It has really been an awesome opportunity.”
Leslea Barnes, Crittenden County 4-H youth development agent, felt the program was a good fit for 4-H, as it has many of the same goals.
“I thought it would be a great opportunity for our community to get kids involved, to get them into the community and know it a lot better,” she said.
The visit to the Capitol also gave the young people the chance to connect with each other and discuss various aspects of their communities over lunch.
“It helped me realize things I didn’t really see in my community, and it let me see how I can do more in my community and how we as a whole can do more,” said Bailey Barnes, a junior from Crittenden County.
“It is nice to know you are part of a group that cares so much about other people and likes to do activities,” said Ciarah Ross, a Butler senior.
Both schools plan to participate in the program next year, with Rollins planning two trips to Frankfort so students can see the differences between the beginning and ending of a state legislative session.
Melissa Bond, 606-304-9944; Melody Nall, 859-218-5949; Leslea Barnes, 270-965-5236