Thirty of Ashe County’s next generation of leaders were recognized Sunday, May 6 by their peers and family members at West Jefferson United Methodist Church as part of the Dick Miller Youth Leadership Program.
Fifteen of the senior class of 2012’s most accomplished graduates were recognized by the Dick Miller committee, while 15 more were inducted into the program. For 2012, program graduates include Peyton Brown, Leah Hodgson, Lynde Ring, Kimmie Ring, Troy Colvard, MacKinsey Johnson, Emily Phillips, Allison Powers, Mikayla Shately, Katie Stephenson, and Wesley Roten.
Sponsored by the Ashe County Chamber of Commerce in cooperation with the NC Cooperative Extension, 4-H, and Ashe County Schools, the program is entering its third year.
The program’s goal is to “empower students to become responsible civic leaders in their community through exposing them to our community’s heritage, it’s current challenges, and its future potential,” read a press release issued by the program.
“We’re looking for youth that are willing to go the extra mile to work in the community,” said Jennifer Miller. “We’re looking for students who are interested in Ashe County, that will go off to college and maybe someday come back, students that show initiative, and that can grow into a leader.”
Miller said the program also recruits students it believes will represent Ashe County well, and students dedicating to working in their community.
“We require them to do 10 hours of community services of their choice,” said Miller. “The work needs to be in two different services, and they do a presentation on that.”
Miller said the program also serves as an introduction to essential services in Ashe County.
“We take students to the hospital to learn about various medical services, and to the the courthouse, to see what happens there,” said Miller. “It’s a way to introduce them to all the things this county can offer, and the ways they can help.”
The Dick Miller Youth Leadership Program’s areas of focus include: leadership style, team building, entrepreneurship and business, cultural arts, the environment, job preparation and the interview process, and human services.
Program inductees for 2012-2013 include Dale Mahala, Chelsea Reavis, Taylor Price, Laken Brooks, Chelsea Eller, MiKayla Shatley, Lucas Zeller, Travis Stanley, Kolton Pilar, Cole Price, Jonathan Nichols, Jake Woods, Haley Maloney, Anna Wooten, and Lucas Hamm.
To be eligible for the program, applicants must be an upcoming senior at Ashe County High School, and must have transportation to meetings. Students must have an interest in knowing more about Ashe County, and have a desire to be a leader.
Sunday’s program inductees for the 2012-2013 year completed an application process and provided at least three letters of reference, in addition to an essay. Participants have committed to be present at all the program’s meetings, activities, and functions (one or two per month), and have committed to complete all monthly challenges. They’ve also been interviewed by DMYL program staff. The top 15 candidates are then selected for the program.
“We want these young men and women to be ambassadors for Ashe County,” said Miller. “When they go off to college, they’ll represent themselves well and we hope they’ll come back and be the next county commissioners, or aldermen, and be the people that are going to shape Ashe County in the future.”