Youth Leadership Program
The Youth Leadership Edmond program was created by the Edmond Area Chamber of Commerce to motivate and equip High School Juniors with leadership skills through activities and interaction with community leaders.
Amanda Bowen, Director of Events and Programs for the Chamber and director of YLE (Youth Leadership Program), says the Chamber is not only looking for Student Council presidents, but for “any student who shows a potential for leadership.”
YLE originally began as a weekend team-building retreat but became a six-month program six years ago. Hollye Laymon, former YLE director said, “Edmond Chamber volunteers felt a need to have a presence in these students’ lives for longer than a weekend.”
Today, YLE sessions are held six days per year—one per month, November through April—concluding with an evening graduation in April, complete with dinner. During the six-month course, the students meet one school day each month from 8:00 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. and receive school credit. Each class involves speakers and activities based on a specific theme.
Students are required to attend each session and the location varies as it relates to the topic. “The purpose is to expose students to Edmond community leadership,” said Bowen, explaining that on Health and Science day, students make a trip to Edmond Medical Center and the new OSBI building. On Municipal Government Day, they meet City leaders and see how they work.
YLE provides an opportunity to learn more about the community and the importance of community service. It brings students together with business and community leaders to identify and discuss community issues, leadership and career opportunities.
Any high school junior living within the Edmond Public School District and/or Edmond City limits may submit an application to participate. Applications are available in August and include information on student activities or honors received as well as short essay answers about leaders and leadership qualities.
Qualified students enter the interview phase during which they meet with YLE volunteers and answer a few more questions about their leadership experience and the information included on their applications. Both parts of the process are scored and the top forty students are selected. This year’s students will make up Class VII, which will begin in November.
Students from Class VI gave some of their thoughts about the program: Bailey Box was thankful for all the new friendships that were made through the program. Corbin Carter said YLE both motivated and educated him and Taylor Hildenbrand said the course taught about expanding as an individual within the Edmond community.
“I used to take what went on in our community for granted,” said Mitch Ross, “but now I have become proud to live in Edmond after seeing how much hard work goes on behind the scenes.”
For more information on YLE, contact Amanda Bowen at (405) 341-2808 or visit the Chamber’s website at www.edmondchamber.com.