Catawba County Youth Council
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Youth Council Donates Pencil Boxes – Catawba County Youth Council kicked-off their year by organizing a drive to collect pencil boxes filled with school supplies to help local elementary students. The project was initiated by Luke Fountain, Youth Council President, who was concerned about students having the necessary supplies for the school year, especially during this pandemic time. Over 200 pencil boxes have been collected and distributed to local schools to give out to students, as needed. The boxes were filled with items such as crayons, pencils, erasers, and other items. Some boxes even include encouraging notes for elementary students, who receive the box.
The Catawba County Youth Council started more than ten years ago to bring greater youth involvement to local government and provide citizenship and leadership opportunities for teens. The council continues to provide a unique out-of-school experience for teen leaders across the county. Through the Youth Council, teens learn about local needs and issues and are encouraged to develop projects to address those needs, just as they created the Pencil Box project based on a need the teens identified. Donna Mull, 4-H Agent, who serves as advisor to the group, encourages the teens to initiate their own projects and identify steps needed to carry out the project. With the Pencil Box Project, the teens created a flier to share project information, contacted a few school principals to make a plan for distributing the boxes, and delivered the pencil boxes to the schools. Hope Cable and Katie Whalen, Youth Council members, organized a collection within their Mt. View neighborhood and assemble over 100 boxes with items received and purchased from donations.
At the August meeting, the Council heard from Amanda Duncan, Board of Elections Supervisor. Being concerned about encouraging young adults to vote, the Council has created stickers with a QR code that will direct to individuals to the Catawba County elections website where they find out where to vote, how to vote safely, and voter registration information. The Council members will be distributing the stickers and cards with QR codes to locations around Catawba County. A Youth Council member took the initiative to explore how to develop the QR code and created the design for use.
The Youth Council is offered through Cooperative Extension, as a part of 4-H. NC 4-H offers activities and curriculum focused on citizenship and leadership, so Donna Mull, Council Advisor, sees the Youth Council as a complementary, non-traditional part of 4-H. The council consists of students representing each high school in the county, including private and home school students. The group meets monthly for educational programs, projects, and students also have a chance to participate in citizenship conferences. Youth Council teens have attended NC 4-H Citizenship Focus, Youth Legislative Assembly, and Youth Voice in connection with the North Carolina County Commissioners Association. The council is currently having virtual meetings due to COVID-19 restrictions, but ordinarily meets the 2nd Monday evening of the month at the Agricultural Resources Center in Newton.
Applications are now being accepted for new students that would like to join the Youth Council. Any interested 9th–11th-grade student who resides in Catawba County is encouraged to apply by October 2. Apply using the online application or email firstname.lastname@example.org to request an application.