ST. GEORGE – The St. George Youth City Council is grooming the community’s youth to be successful future leaders in business, government or whatever path they may choose.
Established in the mid-1990s, the council was placed on hiatus in 2007 due to budget cuts. It was reinstated for the 2010-2011 school year and now operates under the direction of Steve Bingham, City of St. George recreation manager. The success of the council since has inspired other communities to launch similar programs, including Washington City.
The council is a fully-functioning replica of the St. George municipal government with a mayor, city recorder, city manager, communications director, recreation director, service directors and school representatives. Among the members’ many duties are conducting meetings, promoting upcoming projects and activities and recruiting new applicants. With the exception of Bingham and other advisors, the council is entirely led and operated by youth.
Members must have a desire to be involved in politics, which is one of the two main focal points of the program. They work closely with city leaders to understand local government issues and how they affect the community.
Community service is the other crucial facet. With the approval of city officials, members select their own service projects, which range from small-scale fundraisers to some of the most-attended events in the St. George area.
“It’s a great chance to give back,” said Taylor Robles, a 16-year-old Desert Hills High School student who serves as city manager. “It teaches you responsibility as a young adult.”
By participating in the program, youth learn valuable leadership skills, gain experience and knowledge of government and receive scholarship opportunities. The goal of all council activities is to develop not only their organization and community, but themselves as individuals. Being part of the council is no easy task. Members must give numerous hours of their time and remain fully committed throughout the year. Kaitlyn Alexander, an 18-year-old Snow Canyon High School student who serves as mayor, often feels the pressure of scheduling meetings, planning events and keeping the program running smoothly.
“It’s hard work, but it’s rewarding to see your hard work pay off,” she said. “I’ve been able to plan events that have made a real impact on the community. “It’s also a neat experience to work with the (people) behind our city and learn from them.”
Any youth attending Snow Canyon, Desert Hills, Dixie, Millcreek or Tuacahn high schools who is able to participate in regular council meetings and service projects and has a willingness to serve is encouraged to apply for the 2013-2014 council. Applications can be downloaded online and must be submitted to firstname.lastname@example.org before April 15.
“(These) youth are our future; they are the ones who will someday become business and community leaders in our city, county, state and country,” Bingham said. “We are committed to developing youth leadership and (teaching them) to make their community a better place to live.”
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