Youth Leadership welcomes 2015 class

The Youth Leadership Shelby County Class of 2015 poses with University of Montevallo President Dr. John Stewart and mascot Freddie the Falcon. (Contributed)

A previous Youth Leadership Shelby County class poses with University of Montevallo President Dr. John Stewart and mascot Freddie the Falcon. (Contributed)

By JON HARRISON / Special to the Reporter

Every year in November, leaders from across Shelby County come together to select a group of 36 high school juniors from Shelby County, Alabaster, Hoover, Pelham city and participating private schools to form a group of students known as Youth Leadership Shelby County.

These young people are selected through an application process based on grades, extracurricular activities and recommendations from their school’s faculty and staff. After an initial leadership retreat and orientation, the students form smaller groups to complete community service projects around the county before their Youth Leadership graduation in May.

Each month, the leadership group meets and learns about the inner workings of Shelby County. The students learn about the county’s government, health care facilities, education system and environmental conservation efforts.

“I think the program is a win-win for both the county and the students involved,” said Peg Hill, a Leadership Shelby County board member. “I have seen the youth learn about all areas of our county from education to government to health care, and it shows them all kinds of opportunities that they would not have known about otherwise.”

The students who participate in the youth leadership program are also chosen because of the potential they have to positively affect their community in the future.

“I think one of the most important things the students get is kind of a behind-the-scenes look at what makes Shelby County so special,” said Kevin Morris, coordinator for Youth Leadership Shelby County. “It shows them why they would want to invest their future and to come back after college and invest their time and opportunities back into the county they came out of.”

Carol Bruser, coordinator for Leadership Shelby County, has been involved with both the adult and student programs since 1999. She said these students will be leaders in the community sooner rather than later, and that her time with this program has taught her an important lesson.

“Support your youth, because they will eventually be your leaders and everything that the community invests in them will come back to it three fold,” Bruser said.