Youth Council members attend a revamped, productive leadership conference at USU
May 08, 2018 12:32PM
● By Carl Fauver
Councilman Ernest Burgess (L) and Mayor Kristie Overson (R) join the Taylorsville Youth Council at their leadership conference dinner and dance at Utah State University. (Kristy Heineman)
By Carl Fauver | firstname.lastname@example.org
Members of the largest-ever Taylorsville Youth Council are nearing the end of their service year, just as their school year is also winding down. The group had a record 21 members this year because that’s how many high schoolers applied.
“We normally cut the group to 20,” Taylorsville City Council Coordinator and Youth Council Adviser Kristy Heineman said at the time. “But we didn’t want to cut just one person this time around, so we expanded the council by one.”
Each spring, the Taylorsville youth join with their counterparts from across the state, for the Utah Association of Youth Councils’ Leadership Conference at Utah State University.
But this year, several new changes were introduced that pleased both Heineman and her council members.
“About 400 kids attend the conference each year,” she said. “But until this year, each student council stayed together as a team, competing against the other councils. This didn’t give the kids much of a chance to get to know each other.”
This year, the event was under the direction of new Association of Youth Councils President Lisa Summers.
“I love to see youth come together as a group of strangers and learn to work together,” Summers said. “So, this year we carefully placed students — and their advisers — into separate groups, so no two from the same youth council were together.”
Summers is the Centerville City Recreation Director and advises a youth council made up of Viewmont High School students.
Once the students were divided into groups of strangers, they spent part of their leadership conference time completing service projects throughout Logan.
“The kids said that was definitely a highlight,” Summers said. “Most of them visited places they had never been before. These kids genuinely have a desire to help. So, completing the service projects was pretty rewarding for them.”
Heineman said her Taylorsville Youth Council members helped on most of the 19 different service projects.
“One of our students helped clear weeds and bushes at the zoo in Logan (Zootah), while another read to elementary school kids,” she said. “Another group cleaned benches. There were all kinds of activities.”
“My service project was great,” said Taylorsville Youth Council Mayor Bryn Gale, whose group visited a senior center. “We mostly played cards with them. They love a game called Skip-Bo. But we also just talked with them. They seemed to enjoy our visit.”
Gale is actually one of two Taylorsville Student Council members who do not attend Taylorsville High School. She lives in Taylorsville — as student council bylaws require — but attends Murray High School. She’s also one of three council members who represent the group at business ribbon-cuttings and other city events as student ambassadors.
Each of the three ambassadors are also asked to complete a special project. In that activity, Bryn is again working with seniors.
“With help from some of the other youth council members, I interviewed about 10 people at the Taylorsville Senior Center,” Bryn said. “We had a sign-up sheet there and they volunteered to talk with me about the history of our city and their families. To finish the project, I am writing one-page summaries of each interview and will give edited copies to the participants. It’s been fun, and I’ve learned a lot.”
Taylorsville Mayor Kristie Overson appreciates the enthusiasm and volunteerism of the youth council and was pleased to again join them at the Utah State leadership conference.
“It was an amazing time; we have great youth,” Overson said to the city council. “These are top-notch kids, and it (the Logan conference) was a great opportunity for them.”
City Councilman Earnest Burgess didn’t attend the entire youth conference but did drive up to Logan with his wife to attend their closing dinner and dance.
“I try to get up there every year I can,” he said. “It’s important to let them know we care about all they do for our city.”
Students who reside in Taylorsville — and will be in grades 9 through 12, next year — are encouraged to apply to be members of the 2018–19 youth council. Applicants are required to have a 2.5 GPA and two letters of recommendation. An online application will be available this summer at www.taylorsvilleut.gov/government/elected/youth.