When Amy Cloud makes a promise, she keeps it.
In February of 2011, one of her promises, contingent on being hired as the chamber-of-commerce director, was to start a program for teens similar to Leadership Jessamine County.
Beginning this year, her promise will be made a reality with the launch of a pilot program called Youth Leadership Jessamine County.
“It’s just a way to expose them to what I say are the wheels and cogs of a community,” Cloud said. “You can go up and down Main Street all you want to, you can live in the county all your life, and you may never meet the mayor or the police chief or understand the budget struggle of the fire department or realize the sacrifices made by the school system.”
Cloud is also a recent graduate of the adult leadership program and said it will be modeled in the same way by instilling and expressing the same values and skills but geared toward juniors in high school.
Applications will be provided by teachers and guidance councilors at the start of the 2012-’13 school year for the youth leadership pilot year and is only open to juniors from The Providence School and East and West Jessamine high schools.
Students will have until Oct. 1 to fill out the application, and the class will be selected no later than Nov. 15. The youth leadership program itself will begin in January 2013 and go until December.
An advisory council comprised of three community members including Cloud and five business leaders will select 20 to 25 teens for the inaugural year of Youth Leadership Jessamine County.
“I encourage all juniors to apply because it doesn’t have to do with your GPA — it’s not about who’s the smartest or who has the most experience in leadership,” Cloud said. “Applicants selected will be kids who are interested in becoming advocates for their community, making it better and learning more about their hometown and all the awesome things in it.”
The three-page application process will cover things such as student’s likes, skills and dreams, which will help the board learn about the applicant and decided on who to select. Students must also have the approval of two teachers and the principal.
The final requirement is a $50 application fee. The adult program costs $495, but Cloud said they made the right decision to cut the price of the program but still require a small fee.
“We wanted a buy-in, because if there is a buy-in, then there is value, and we wanted students to see the value,” Cloud said. “You really do have to have skin in the game to make a community better, you have to be able to give and sacrifice — Give something, do something, be something.”
To curtail the cost to Leadership Jessamine County, the chamber of commerce is asking for sponsorship from individuals and businesses who “see the value” of putting these junior through the program.
The program starts in January with an orientation that includes parents. Then there will be an overnight retreat at a camp that same month for team-building and leadership-building skills with the help of Asbury University interns.
After that, every month will have a different theme except for July, when there will be no meeting.
The young leaders will meet local officials and other community leaders, visit the legislature in Frankfort, attend government meetings and “understand how the board of education works and its struggles,” Cloud said.
“They’ll be learning about the overcrowding problems at the jail by visiting with Jailer Jon Sallee and stepping over the inmates who are sleeping on the floor,” she said. “The (adult) leadership saw that, but now we want our youth to see it, too.”
Cloud said it will also answer interesting questions such as: Was there really bourbon buried in the chandlers of High Bridge? Are there ghosts that haunt the old jail on Main Street?
And as the juniors become seniors, one month will cover professional development that helps with resumé building and filling out college applications.
“But the main goal of Youth Leadership Jessamine County is understanding the community, truly from the inside out,” she said. “We believe that the same thing will happen on the youth level that happens on the adult level — that it’ll build a sense of pride in the community.”
No website has been set up as of yet, but for more information or to help sponsor the program, call the chamber-of-commerce office at 859-887-4351.