Leading for the Next Generation

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One of my favorite things about working with the 4-H Youth Development program is the opportunity I have to witness young people taking an active role in shaping their futures. Over the past two weeks, thirteen future leaders embarked on the eighth annual Lee County 4-H Young Commissioner leadership program where they learned about areas including: local and state government, economic development, job interview and career skills, business etiquette, community service, and public speaking… all the while enhancing their own personal leadership capacity.

Throughout the two-week session, these young people took part in a number of in-depth and candid conversations with many of the most successful leaders our community has to offer. This partnership between N.C. Cooperative Extension and the Lee County Commissioners has once again proven to be an exciting two-week journey as well as a valuable and rewarding experience for the young participants.

What I have also noticed through this project is just how much members of our community value the potential of these students and recognize the importance of nurturing and fostering their development. The support this program has received from various governmental, public, and private organizations and individuals across Lee County has been tremendous. High quality and impactful educational sessions, workshops, tours, and activities were led by local citizens that are experts in their respective fields.

I am encouraged and inspired to live in a community that recognizes the importance of giving the next generation an opportunity to excel. Sometimes the difference in positively affecting the road that a young person travels in life comes down to a mentor, a relationship, or simply someone giving them the confidence to dream bigger than they ever have before.

I was so thrilled to see these young people develop a host of valuable leadership skills over the duration of the program, and equally elated to find so many willing volunteers in our community that saw value in giving of their time and talents to the next generation. This is an important lesson for us to remember, as we were all likely assisted by someone else along our way. Remember that each of us has something positive that we can pass along to the next generation to create a better future for all!

Bill Stone is the County Extension Director for North Carolina Cooperative Extension in Lee County.