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Youth leadership conference to be held May 8 in Oak Ridge

One way youth can learn leadership skills is to listen to other young people who have demonstrated leadership.

The Rotary Club of Oak Ridge will host a Youth Leadership Conference for Anderson County teenagers on Wednesday, May 8, from 2 to 6 p.m. in Room 107 of the Goff Building on the Oak Ridge Branch Campus of Roane State Community College.

“Students will be invited to participate and listen to the stories of young people who make a difference,” said Leslie England, president of the Rotary Club of Oak Ridge.

The presenters, who are about the same age as the high-school students, will speak on advocacy, volunteerism and “mindset (grit, determination and entrepreneurship).” Participants will experience a Privilege Walk, an activity designed to raise their awareness of socioeconomic differences among their peers.

The presenters on the advocacy panel will share their experiences with civic engagement as they address the question, How can young people get involved in public policy?

The presenters are Eli Anderson, Jacob Hughett and J.R. Russell.

Katie Law, Amanda Kuipers and Taylor Boyer, members of the volunteerism and service panel, will share their community service experiences as they address this question: What is important about creating the habit of giving back?

Panelists Patrick Bardsley, Abbie Allison and Katie Sanchez will share their experiences in developing a mindset that helped them overcome obstacles, challenge the status quo and create opportunities for themselves.

The presenters are students at area high schools, community colleges or four-year universities. One was elected to a county board of commissioners; another has worked with Schools Together Allowing No Drugs (STAND) and a homeless shelter, and others have volunteered at Methodist Medical Center, offered computer skills to a Rotary- and Catholic church-funded medical clinic in Ghana, a country in West Africa, and started a project to encourage early childhood literacy.

Local companies and individuals are urged to help sponsor this event. Sponsors will receive name recognition at this unique leadership event for local students.

Company sponsors so far include Akins Public Strategies, C&J Wealth Advisors, Mortgage Investors, Oak Ridge Utility District (ORUD Natural Gas), Edward Jones, The Oak Ridger and TN Bank. If you are interested in becoming a sponsor, please contact Tracy Boatner at or make your check payable to The Rotary Club of Oak Ridge (YLC on memo line) and mail it to the club at 401 S. Illinois Ave., Oak Ridge, TN 37830.