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Teens take leadership tour

by Linda Hiller

Nineteen Douglas High School students had the chance Wednesday to learn more about their community and how they, as potential leaders, might someday be able to have an impact.

The pilot group, called Young Leaders in Douglas County (YLDC), was formed by current and former Leadership Douglas County members John Amundson and Steve Lewis, both LDC ’93, and Allen Gosselin, LDC ’00, and sponsored by Kiwanis through the Key Club program. All three are also members of Kiwanis.

Cheryl Bricker, LDC ’99 and executive director of the Partnership of Community Resources and Karen Brumhall, youth development coordinator for University of Nevada, Reno Cooperative Extension, were also adult facilitators for the day.

“For a number of years, members of Kiwanis who have participated in the 10-month Leadership Douglas County program felt that it would be desirable if something like the leadership program was available for students at Douglas High School, who are our future leaders,” Amundson said. “One of our goals was to introduce the students to the community and also to introduce this community to some great future leaders.”

The students in YLDC’s first tour are all members of the Key Club, Block D Club or Gosselin’s leadership class at DHS who had been invited to apply.

The 19 students and five leaders spent the day traveling by school bus to businesses including North Sails Nevada, a sail manufacturing company in Minden; Full Circle Compost on Heybourne Road; the East Fork Fire and Paramedic districts station on County Road and the Douglas County Jail, where Kiwanis provided lunch.

n Thinking to the future. Before and after the tour, students and facilitators gathered at the Minden Medical Center conference room to discuss their views on Carson Valley’s future.

“The interesting thing was that in the morning, we asked them to tell us what they would like Douglas County to be like in the year 2010,” Lewis said. “One of the common themes they all came up with was to keep the rural atmosphere and open space here – the small-town feel.”

After the tour, many still wanted to keep the relaxed atmosphere, but they were surprised at the up-to-date activities that are going on.

“I thought the whole day was an eye-opening experience,” said junior Brittany Keele. “I’ve lived here all my life, and I learned a lot about this place today.”

“I thought the compost place was interesting,” said junior Mariah Archer. “I’d heard about it, with all the microbes making compost, but it was interesting to see in person.”

“I liked the paramedic station, and thought it was interesting that it was all male,” said junior Katie Lake.

“I had no idea the North Sails place was here,” said junior Erin Granat. “It made Minden seem like a much cooler place. I didn’t realize the jail was here either.”

“I enjoyed the hayride,” said junior Becky Mihelic.

When asked about leadership and what the day’s events had taught them, many of the students had obviously been touched by the places they’d been.

“I think what made each place interesting was the speakers who talked to us,” said junior Renee Ruppel.

“I learned that you can be a leader no matter what you do,” said Keele.

“Right, you just do it with your own style,” Gosselin agreed.

Many of the students were enthusiastic about continuing the youth leadership program in the community.

“I think it should be offered to other kids besides just the Key club, Block D and leadership class kids,” said junior Erica Brockhage.

“You could add other locations, like, say, an emergency room,” said junior Samantha Barnes.

“I think it would be interesting to go to a casino,” said Ruppel. “I’ve lived around casinos all my life, and I’d like to see what goes on behind the scenes.”

Also on the tour were DHS students Casey Lansdowne, Manpreet Kishan, Haley Kirka, Julia Simon, Annie Sweet, Jessica Johnson, Jamie Yered, Ellen Lillegard, Destiny Siino, Nicole Colquhoun and Kristen Lewandowski.

n Program should continue. Adult leaders said they will be compiling the answers the students gave on their evaluation surveys and then taking the idea for sponsorship to the Carson Valley Chamber of Commerce and Visitors Authority.

“We’d like them to be the next sponsor,” Amundson said. “It makes perfect sense, with the LDC being there, too.”

Leadership Douglas County is a yearly class sponsored by the Carson Valley and Lake Tahoe chambers of commerce. Each month, LDC class members tour a variety of areas such as education, Valley and Lake services and tourism, county government, agriculture, the legal system and more.

Amundson said the youth program makes perfect sense as an offshoot of LDC.

“One of the motives with this pilot program is to build bridges between the high school and the community,” he said. “My view is that we have some great kids there, and the community needs to be exposed to the good kids. I’d like to see us build better bridges between the community and the youth.”