The Harrison Regional Chamber of Commerce and Kinetic by Windstream sponsored the 2019-2020 Youth Leadership Academy. 

High school juniors can apply to participate in the program from area schools. Applications are currently being accepted for next year’s academy.

Chloe Avery, Valley Springs High School said, “Finding new people to build each other up with can create a new world full of inspiration and intelligence.”

Noelle Hutchcraft said, “Towards the beginning I was rather hesitant since I was kind of new, but towards the end I met a lot of respectable people. I think I’m more aware of the hard working people in small towns. I would recommend the academy to others. I will most definitely be able to use what I learned as I transition into an adult community leader.”

Makenzie Graves, Valley Springs High School said, “YLA was definitely a very educational program to take part in. By going on various trips around the county and state, I personally learned that there are things happening so much bigger than my relatively limited high school view. I have a much deeper appreciation for those that are constantly working at the local, regional and state levels to improve our quality of life. I strongly encourage younger students to become involved in the academy. Through the program I met some of the best people and some great friends. Overall I do feel more prepared for adult life and to recognize the efforts behind the scenes and appreciate the history behind our county.”

The group of students started the year off getting to know the other students from area schools and learning the value of teamwork. In October they took a two-day trip to Little Rock to participate in the 4-H ROPES Course and they had the opportunity to meet Governor Asa Hutchinson. 

The remainder of the year, they met once a month learning about county and city government,  local businesses, industries, financial and life skills as well as developing leadership and teamwork skills. During March they spent a day visiting agriculture sites in the county and learning about the importance of local producers.

Each year the group choses a project to participate in and give back to the community. But the COVID-19 pandemic cancelled their project and graduation ceremony for the class.

The crisis may have changed spring plans, but the experiences and knowledge the group gained can not be taken away from them.

“With the generous assistance of Kinetic by Windstream, we’re thrilled to provide another outstanding, hands-on leadership experience for our community this year,” said Melissa Collins, chamber chair.

The 2020-2021 YLA will begin the seven-month Class XXIV in September. High School juniors can visit the Chamber’s website at to see pictures from this year and fill out an application. Juniors are also nominated by counselors and principals from Alpena, Bergman, Lead Hill, Omaha, Harrison and Valley Springs High Schools.  






Donna has written for the HDT for more than 19 years. When off the clock, she enjoys writing for children, teaching piano lessons and being a pastor's wife. The Braymers have three married sons and daughter-in-laws and 9 grandchildren.

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