Leadership Adams celebrated the graduation of 10 participants in their inaugural youth program Friday afternoon with a ceremony in West Union.
The program encompassed three days where the incoming high school seniors, many of which have earned college credit, participated in leadership activities with a coach, met with county leaders and toured many of the businesses that call Adams County home.
The 10 students, Mckayla Smith and Ricky Deatley from Manchester High School, Taylor Wylie and Aaron Pertuset of North Adams High School, Kasey Hawkins and Karlie Harper of Ohio Valley Career and Technical Center, Josey Scott and Tyler Ryan of Peebles High School and Daisee Young and Jacob Miley of West Union High School, were selected among their classmates at their respective schools to become a part of the program.
One of the leaders of the youth program, Mike Parks, believes this is an important time to get young leaders interested in giving back to Adams County.
“Our goal is to sow and invest in people to make Adams County a better place,” Parks said. “There’s more revenue here in Adams County than ever before and that’s because there’s more productivity, sales tax is up and travel and tourism is up.”
The students were shown that when they toured a number of businesses in Adams County who do international trade.
“It was really neat to see how Adams County is global,” Mckayla Smith said. “We went to McCoy and there’s Adams County wood over in China right now.”
The General Electric plant in Peebles where jet engines are tested was also a big hit with many of the youth as well. Kasey Hawkins said the technology they witnessed there “blew my mind.”
“It was really cool to see all the aircraft engines they work on and all the different tests they do to ensure the safety of the people that will someday be riding on those planes with these engines,” Aaron Pertuset said. “I never knew that a place in Adams County would have the kind of technology that GE has.”
In addition to McCoy Lumber and GE, the group also toured Moyer’s Restaurant and Winery in Manchester, Adams County Regional Water District, Maca Plastics in Winchester, Adams County Regional Medical Center, the Adams County Courthouse and county government building in West Union.
For Smith, who has dreamt of becoming a lawyer since she was in kindergarten, getting to meet those within the courthouse and county government was the highlight of the program.
“I will be receiving my associate degree in science in May of 2016,” Smith said. “From there I’ll be going for my bachelor’s degree and then looking at law schools. It was really great being able to meet [Adams County Prosecutor] David Kelley since that’s what I’m interested in doing. It’ll help if I try to pursue becoming a lawyer.”
Networking and making connections with established leaders within the county is something Pertuset believes is one of the most important aspects of the program.
“I think that the connections this program has allowed me to make are very important,” Pertuset said. “I got to meet some really awesome people that have helped to make our county a better place. Meeting all the different people involved with Leadership Adams was really cool, and I think they will continue to make a positive impact in Adams County. I think it is good to make these connections with all these people, so that we can all work together to make Adams County better.”
For Kasey Hawkins, an incoming senior who already has her STNA certification, the program only reaffirmed her desire to return to Adams County after pursuing a degree in physical therapy.
“I’m definitely going to college,” Hawkins said. “Perhaps for a physical therapist assistance position and and then if I like that I’ll go back for my doctorate. I would love to return to Adams County though, I love Adams County. It’s my home.”
For Parks, having leaders return to Adams County is the long term-goal of the youth program.
“On their name badges it says ‘Future leader of Adams County’ and that’s the goal of this program,” Parks said. “To show these kids what good things are in Adams County, allow them to meet individuals who have come back to Adams County and give them hope for a future if they should so choose to come back after college and make Adams County a better place.”
One of the suggestions of the class was that the program should be longer than three days, and Parks hopes to continue working with this group for a few more days.
“This is not the end,” Parks said. “This is graduation from the summer program but we are going to allow this group to go to the state house with us when we go up there to the capital. They all want to do more stuff and if they’re willing to do that I’m willing to sow the time to make it happen.”