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High school students attend youth summit

Youth are 25 percent of the population, but they are 100 percent of our future!

The Fourth Biennial Georgia Youth Summit was held Sept. 20-22 at the Rock Eagle 4-H Conference Center near Eatonton. The summit brought together nearly 1,000 youth and adults envisioning the future of Georgia and taking action to make it happen.

In a survey of 3,999 youth in rural Georgia, an overwhelming majority (95 percent) responded that there are adults in their lives who encourage them. However, some 60 percent did not think that adults listen to their ideas and suggestions for improving the community. Sixty percent also reported they have not had the opportunity to participate in a leadership development program.

Furthermore, less than one out of every three respondents said he or she plans to spend his or her life in the rural community he or she is growing up in. Therefore, youth involvement in civic responsibility is critical for community leadership succession.

The summit is designed for county youth-adult teams to experience educational opportunities in a team approach, participate in issue-based round table discussions with state leaders and create action plans for future community building.

Each county received full scholarships for four youth and one adult to attend the summit through funding provided by the governor and General Assembly. The event was coordinated through the University of Georgia 4-H Youth program, but the summit was open to all students in the 10th or 11th grade.

Students representing Decatur County and Bainbridge High School were Lucie Reynolds, Tyrone Jacobs, Aesha Worthy and Amber Johnson.

Lindsey Bell, Decatur County Extension Agent, attended as part of the youth adult partnership. These emerging student leaders are currently Student Council members at BHS.

Team members identified an issue and proposed solutions to address the issue. Students interviewed community leaders and members for input on their concerns facing our community. Students also researched statistics and history regarding Decatur County and provided a poster highlighting the county. Team members gave a five-minute presentation in a mock Town Hall meeting on how they will choose to address the chosen issue of decreasing high school drop-out rates.

Source: Jeff Buckley, Coordinator, Georgia Youth Summit. Lindsey Bell is the 4-H coordinator with the Decatur County Extension Service. She can be reached by calling 248-3033 or e-mailing her at uge4087@uga.edu.