During the last 18 years, 2,482 middle and high school students have graduated from The Center for Rural Development’s youth leadership programs
Through the Leadership Focus Area, The Center for Rural Development is changing the lives of young people in Southern and Eastern Kentucky.
During the last 18 years, 2,482 middle and high school students from 45 Kentucky counties have graduated from The Center’s Rogers Scholars, Rogers Explorers, and Entrepreneurial Leadership Institute (ELI) summer youth leadership programs.
“The youth programs and U.S. Congressman Harold “Hal” Rogers’ vision that no young person should have to leave home to find his or her future is very early on in the history of The Center for Rural Development,” said Lonnie Lawson, President and CEO. “Congressman Rogers, Bob Mitchell, his district administrator, and Mike Duncan were talking about the programs that were being developed at The Center and Mike Duncan asked, ‘Where are the young people in this vision?’”
“That was the vision for creating the Rogers Scholars program,” Lawson added.
Rogers Scholars—The Center’s flagship youth program—was the first of three youth leadership programs to be launched in 1998.
The intensive, one-week summer program provides valuable leadership skills and exclusive college scholarship opportunities for high school students to receive the skills they need to become the region’s next generation of business and entrepreneurial leaders.
“We are extremely proud of the young people who have completed and graduated from our youth leadership programs,” said Delaney Stephens, youth programs coordinator and community liaison. “They are our future leaders in Southern and Eastern Kentucky and are making a difference in shaping the future of our region.”
In observance of its 20th anniversary, The Center will celebrate the success of these and other programs at a joint celebration on Dec. 12, from 2-4 p.m. welcoming the Courtyard by Marriott hotel, the newest addition to the property.
Rogers Scholars, open to rising high school juniors, emphasizes technological skills development and fosters an entrepreneurial spirit, leadership, and commitment to rural Kentucky.
“The Rogers Scholars program has shown me the impact our generation is making in our communities and that we are making a difference,” said 2016 Rogers Scholars graduate Caroline Rushing of Monroe County. “It definitely is an experience of a lifetime.”
In 2005, The Center founded a pilot leadership program for middle school students modeled after Rogers Scholars.
Rogers Explorers, a three-day, two-night summer youth leadership program, concentrates on helping middle school students in Southern and Eastern Kentucky build their math, science, and technology skills and encourages graduates to pursue a career in these high-demand areas.
The program is held in partnership with the University of the Cumberlands, Asbury University, Lindsey Wilson College, Eastern Kentucky University, Morehead State University, University of Pikeville, and the newest host site, Union College.
“This experience has been amazing and a great opportunity to grow as a leader,” said 2016 Rogers Explorers graduate Aleah Knifley of Taylor County. “I’ve been able to build my math, science, and technology skills.”
The Center launched another milestone in 2006 with the first graduating class of the Entrepreneurial Leadership Institute (ELI) for future business leaders and entrepreneurs.
The intensive one-week program focuses on developing creativity, teamwork and business skills, and encourages high school students to consider starting a business as a career option.
“This was a great learning experience of how the business world works and how a simple idea can turn into a large company,” said 2016 ELI graduate Colton Morrow of Wayne County. “The ELI program helped me to learn how to be a team player and work with others to accomplish a goal.”
Other programs in The Center’s Leadership Focus Area include career and workforce training through the Business & Community Training Center, Displaced Coal Miner Training Program, Forward in the Fifth, and Developing and Implementing Community Strategies Program.
For more information on the youth leadership programs, visit www.centeryouthprograms.com. To learn more about the 20th Anniversary Celebration or to register for the event, call 606-677-6000 or visit www.centertech.com.
Established in 1996 through the vision of U.S. Congressman Harold “Hal” Rogers, (KY-05), and other leaders, The Center for Rural Development is a nonprofit organization fueled by a mission to provide leadership that stimulates innovative and sustainable economic development solutions and a better way of life in Southern and Eastern Kentucky. In its 45-county primary service region, The Center provides innovative programs in leadership, public safety, technology, and arts and culture. The Center is committed to constantly expanding its capabilities in order to deliver a range of key services throughout Kentucky and the nation.