A group of Columbia County high school students will learn about the community from outside the walls of a classroom through a youth leadership program.
Youth Leadership Columbia County, which is in its 13th year, is a Columbia County Chamber of Commerce program that gives rising high school sophomores and juniors the chance to explore various facets of the community and career opportunities.
"It's an awareness program of their community, just brought down to their level," said Tammy Shepherd, the chamber's president and CEO.
Last week, the group held an orientation session and participated in a rope course and team-building exercises at Clarks Hill Lake.
Starting in September, the class will meet monthly to tour places of significance in the area and learn about county civic issues. The topics to be explored during the eight-month course are history; law enforcement, including a mock car wreck; business and industry; health care; media and community service; government and education, including a trip to the state Capitol in Atlanta; and arts, culture and diversity.
The program is open to 10th-graders and 11th-graders in public and private high schools and those who are homeschooled in the county. Students were selected after applying in the spring, Shepherd said. "We try to have good representation from all public high schools in the county," she said.
Shepherd noted the popularity of the youth program has also led some to join its adult counterpart, Leadership Columbia County.
Youth Leadership Columbia County is supported by scholarship dollars from chamber members, said Shepherd, adding that the county's school system also promotes the program.
"It's been just very popular within the schools themselves, and I think the school system sees the value of them being exposed to so much," she said.
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