Georgia High School Students Embrace Leadership Journey at UGA Program

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Photo courtesy of Cat Elrod/UGA

Thirty high school students hailing from various counties in Georgia are embarking on a leadership journey through the Youth LEAD Georgia program at the University of Georgia. Selected from over 300 nominations, these 10th and 11th graders are set to develop essential leadership skills and deepen their understanding of their state.

In collaboration with UGA’s J.W. Fanning Institute for Leadership Development, Chick-fil-A Inc., and The Same House organization, Youth LEAD Georgia aims to prepare these young individuals to become the future leaders of Georgia. The program, consisting of four weekend retreats held in different communities across the state and a four-day summer bus tour, is generously supported by a $1.5 million pledge from Chick-fil-A to the Fanning Institute.

The opening retreat took place from Jan. 20-22 at UGA, where participants had the opportunity to engage with UGA President Jere W. Morehead. Morehead emphasized the lifelong nature of leadership and encouraged the youth to become problem solvers and key contributors to their communities and beyond.

Designed by Rodney Bullard, CEO of The Same House, Georgia business leader Fred Hicks, and UGA’s Fanning Institute faculty, the program integrates leadership training, experiential learning activities, and discussions on current issues facing the state. Additionally, participants will interact with prominent business and community leaders.

The kickoff retreat facilitated team-building activities, exploration of individual leadership styles, and exposure to college application processes and Athens-Clarke County. Participants expressed enthusiasm for meeting peers from diverse backgrounds and appreciated the opportunity to understand different perspectives.

Moving forward, the Bullard Community Champions program, funded by a generous gift from Bullard, will enable participants to undertake service projects in their local communities, applying their newfound leadership skills.

Matt Bishop, director of the Fanning Institute, highlighted the significance of equipping youth with skills for community engagement and fostering peer support networks.

The Youth LEAD Georgia program aligns with UGA’s mission to cultivate strong leaders for the state, embodying the university’s commitment to community development and civic engagement.

For more information on Youth LEAD Georgia, click here.

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