The Council Bluffs Area Chamber of Commerce is working to develop the next generation of local professionals and leaders with its Council Bluffs Youth Leadership program, and this year’s class is just getting started.
Youth Leadership Council Bluffs is an annual program offered to Pottawattamie County high school juniors by the chamber, and its goal is to develop them into socially engaged and engaged members of the community in hopes of retaining them to live and work in the region. early in their career after high school or college.
Last week, 30 students from Abraham Lincoln, Riverside, St. Albert, Thomas Jefferson, Treynor and Tri-Center high schools gathered at the Hitchcock Nature Center in Honey Creek for their first session of the year. It was a day filled with breaking the ice, learning leadership and communication skills, and working together on team building exercises.
People also read…
One such activity had the group standing in a circle holding a length of rope. With the help of a student above the nearby observation tower outside Loess Hills Lodge and a student downstairs, the group was tasked with transforming the shape of the circle into star with students’ hands on the rope at all times. The first attempt failed after a while, but with a different look and a new strategy, the group succeeded and burst into applause after seeing their results after the second attempt.
The students also divided into groups to test their creativity. Each group used aluminum foil to shape a product. The students were then tasked with writing an advertisement for their products and presenting a pitch to the class.
Abraham Lincoln’s Molly Romano is part of this year’s leadership class and she plays college volleyball for the Lynx. She said that now that she is in the upper class, she is responsible for setting a positive example for her young teammates. Romano said she hopes Youth Leadership Council Bluffs will help her become a better leader on and off the court.
Owen Wise of St. Albert is also part of the program. He is a multi-sport athlete and he knows the importance of communication with his teammates. He said he looks forward to the opportunity to meet local leaders and learn how to be an active member of the community using those same communication skills.
Lori Shields, vice president of communications and leadership development at the chamber, said Youth Leadership Council Bluffs is a nine-month program and students meet for a full day once a month until May. She said the meetings are interactive, with students traveling to Council Bluffs and surrounding communities to meet with government officials, business leaders and representatives of non-profit organizations to see how economic development works. and social and civic functions. They will also learn about local heritage and history to give them a sense of identity where they live.
Shields said maintaining a strong youthful population is important in any community. She said they were not just high school students, but also representatives of the future. This is a new tax base that will be made up of professionals, entrepreneurs, homeowners or tenants, employees and families, and Youth Leadership Council Bluffs is working to show its students the opportunities in place in surrounding communities to keep its young population strong.
“Students learn different aspects of leadership,” she said. “It’s important for the chamber because we’re trying to build leaders in our community for the future. So we get these students to be actively engaged in giving back and supporting our community, and understanding the concerns, challenges, issues and successes it has.