YOUTH SUMMIT SPURS CONVERSATION
By Katie Gard
AmeriCorps Promise Fellow
Over 70 youth and adults representing a broad range of clubs, businesses, and organizations in Fergus Falls gathered at the YMCA on Wednesday, May 5, 2010, for a Youth Summit, sponsored by the Otto Bremmer Foundation, Minnesota Alliance With Youth, HandsOn Network, and Fergus Falls Community Education.
Generationally-mixed small groups of community members engaged in conversation about what today’s youth need and can contribute to our community, as well as the role of volunteers (both youth and adult) in creating cohesive, meaningful programs and projects. Many of the youth have been involved in community service-learning projects through “Make a Difference,” a school club led by AmeriCorps Promise Fellows Claire Stich and Katie Gard.
Seventh grader, Cory Carlson, appreciated the small group conversations, noting that his group was easy to talk to and a good mix of youth and adults.
Group discussion (led by Melissa Burwell, Director of Strategic Initiatives at the Minnesota Alliance With Youth) was preceded by guest speaker, Nathan Eklund, Trainer and Consultant at the Minneapolis Search Institute (known for its research on the “40 Developmental Assets”). Eklund spoke of healthy relationships as the building blocks of healthy programs and systems.
High School Junior and National Honor Society (NHS) member, Chris Jennen, enjoyed the speaker, saying that Eklund connected well with both youth and adults. Jennen added that the conference was “pretty good, all around” and that we should “keep doing it.”
Plans are in process for making the Youth Summit an annual event. For more information about how you can be involved, contact Community Education at 218-998-0544 x1600.