Catawba County Youth Council

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Applications are now being accepted through the month of September for high school students that would like to be part of the Catawba County Youth Council. Through the Youth Council’s monthly meetings and projects, teens have the chance to build their leadership skills, learn more about local issues, and build a connection to local government and non-profits in the county. Ashley Hinostroza-Villacorta, a Youth Council member and Challenger student, explained that “Youth Council exposes students to a variety of different experiences, including forming connections with leaders in the community, helping to plan community projects, and having the chance to participate in a variety of different volunteer opportunities. It helps students to develop skills such as leadership, teamwork, and perseverance.”

The Council meets monthly on a Monday evening. Meetings are most often held at the Agriculture Resources Center in Newton, but the location can vary. Access the Online Application. Students may also request the printed application by contacting Cooperative Extension at 828-465-8240 or emailing According to Donna Mull, Council Advisor, we strive to have each school, including private and home-schools, represented on the Council so we can bring together student leaders that represent the entire county. There is a particular need for additional students from Newton-Conover, Hickory City Schools, Bunker Hill, Maiden High Schools and home-school students.

The Youth Council consists of 30 high school students that are selected through an application process to serve as representatives from their respective schools. For the current school-year the Youth Council officers have chosen the theme “Change Agents” and will be hearing from different elected leaders that influence change. The teens will also be involved in different volunteer projects throughout the county, which started with volunteering with the United Way School Supply Drive by sorting items at the August meeting. The Youth Council is a collaborative effort of the Catawba County Government, United Way, and Cooperative Extension. The council operates as a part of 4-H, so students also have the opportunity to participate in citizenship activities that are offered by 4-H. Last year, council members attended NC 4-H Citizenship Focus and NC Youth Legislative Assembly, which complimented the council’s goals. A favorite and annual project of the Youth Council includes reviewing and awarding the United Way Youth grants.

A team of officers and adult advisors guides the work of the Council. Officers for the 2022-23 school year are President, Ameera Raja, from University Christian High School, Madeline Beisler, St Stephens High, and Isabella Tupman, Christopher Gulan-Duran, and Makala Pitman from Challenger High School. Advisors for the Youth Council are Donna Mull, 4-H Agent with Cooperative Extension, Siobhan Loendorf, Catawba County Library Director, and Jordan Ledford, Council on Adolescents Director.

Picture: Teens who are involved with the Catawba County Youth Council attended NC 4-H Citizenship Focus during the summer, where they met with their elected leaders and participated in citizenship and leadership workshops. Catawba County delegates that attended Citizenship Focus are pictured with Representative Jay Adams. Picture (left to right): Madeline Beisler, Rebecca Golden, Makala Pitman, Representative Jay Adams, and Donna Mull, Catawba County 4-H Agent, and Selah Sigmon.

Youths and adults in green 4-H shirts stand in front of a map of the state of North Carolina.