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Lead UC Youth Q & A

How we started

In the fall of 2010, a steering committee of the High Lakes Leadership Initiative Board of Directors was developed to initiate a Youth Leadership Program with the generous contribution of the Dekko Foundation. This funding was matched with additional funds from Union County Development Association, ISU Extension, IowaWORKS/WIA and SineQuaNon.

In the early months of 2011, four focus groups were held at East Union Middle and High School, Creston Middle and High School, St. Malachy, and Mayflower Heritage Christian School. Twenty-Seven youth participated in the focus groups. An online survey was also available for youth to provide input. Several planning sessions took place over the spring and summer months with youth from all representative schools to develop goals, a mission statement, and a logo. Youth input for initial curriculum framework was also gathered. Meetings were attended by youth who had expressed interest in the program steering committee from the previous focus groups. The youth researched several other youth leadership programs from across the country. This experience was beneficial not only to gather ideas from other programs but also to spark the visioning process for the High Lakes Youth Leadership format. Through the analysis of other programs, the LeaderNext curriculum was selected. This program was designed for student leadership development and aligns with the core curriculum being used in schools and offers the flexibility to incorporate youth as leaders and participants. To complement the LeaderNext curriculum, we are incorporating the Habitudes series, a multimedia program by Dr. Tim Elmore, designed to form leadership habits and attitudes.

In 2018, the program was rebranded to become the Lead UC Youth program.


Why do today’s teenagers need leadership training and experiences?

The healthy development of youth is promoted through activities and experiences that help youth develop social, ethical, emotional, physical and cognitive competencies. Youth leadership is a component of the process of youth development and aids youth in gaining the abilities to identify their personal strengths/weaknesses, set personal and vocational goals, and acquire the self-confidence, motivation, and abilities to carry them out. Youth leadership also promotes skill building and experiences in the areas of guiding and directing others to take action, influence the opinions and behaviors of others, contribute to the well-being of their communities, and serve as role models (source: National Alliance for Secondary Education & Transition, Transition Toolkit).


What are the benefits of a school-sponsored leadership program? (justification for dismissing students from classes)

Source: Iowa Core Curriculum – Version 8/1/2010

Each Iowa student is provided access to essential concepts and meaningful learning experiences in the core academic content areas. It is imperative that we look to 21st-century skills to build capacity in students, preparing them to lead productive, satisfying lives. According to Ken Kay, president of the Partnership for 21st Century Skills, the 21st-century skill set is “the ticket to economic upward mobility in the new economy.” (Gewertz, 2007). Business and industry are providing a very clear message that students need the skills to “work comfortably with people from other cultures, solve problems creatively, write and speak well, think in a multidisciplinary way, and evaluate information critically. And they need to be punctual, dependable, and industrious.” (Gewertz, 2007).

In the 2007 session, the Iowa Legislature established the Iowa 21st century framework as civic literacy, employability skills, financial literacy, health literacy, and technology literacy. The Lead UC Youth program will encompass all of the 21st-century skills. The program will address the essential concepts and skills identified in each of these areas as defined by the Iowa Core Curriculum. We believe that the leadership program will be beneficial to Creston and East Union school districts in advancing the effort to develop the Iowa Core Curriculum 21st century skills in 8th-12th-grade students. Providing the student’s access to leadership and 21st-century skills training during the school day will increase the number of students participating. Many students may not attend if offered out of school time due to competition with athletic programs and part-time work schedules.


Who can participate?

Students who will be in 9th grade through 12th grade are welcome to apply for that school year. Note that the program runs through the regularly scheduled school calendar year.


How much time will it take to participate?

The eight sessions add up to roughly 34 hours.


What if I cannot attend all of the sessions?

Active participation and team building are important aspects of the Lead UC Youth Program, so it is extremely important that students attend all sessions. In the case of an emergency or unavoidable conflicts, participants are allowed two absences and will be expected to make up what was missed. Failure to attend or obtain prior permission to miss a class may result in the participant not graduating.


When are the sessions?

The sessions will be held on monthly starting in September through April each year. Most sessions will be approximately 3.5 hours in length. Refer to the schedule posted on the website.


How much does it cost?

Cost for the program is projected to be $150.00 per student. However, we are thankful for contributions from our public and private sponsors. No fee will be required from the student.


Will there be homework?

Yes. You are expected to participate in assigned activities and discussions outside of the regular sessions.


How is this program different?

As a community, we have several youth-serving programs that build leadership skills, such as FFA, 4-H, EAST, YACC, and FBLA. Programs such as these have dual purposes. For example, FFA builds leadership skills through the focus of agricultural education and YACC focuses on educating students in the areas of philanthropy.

The sole purpose of the Lead UC Youth Program is to concentrate solely on leadership and the 21st Century Leadership Skills.