December 9, 2009 Edition

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Members of the Ralph Joseph Youth Leadership Class 15 graduated from the program recently. They include (front, from left): Caitlyn Difani, Sloan-Hendrix; Katelyn Ponder, Sloan-Hendrix; Beth Massey, Walnut Ridge; Katelyn Ellis, Hoxie; Ashley Stroud, Hillcrest; Erika Mitchell, Sloan-Hendrix; (back) Dr. Parker Crum, guest speaker; Sarah Sloan, Black Rock; Samantha Blevins, Hillcrest; Coy Yasler, Hoxie; Hunter Horton, Black Rock; Rob Rainwater, Walnut Ridge; Leslee Parrish, Hoxie; Megan Jones, Black Rock; Dr. Ralph Joseph, program founder; and (not pictured) Tyler Durham, Hillcrest; and Kierston Cook, Walnut Ridge.

RJYLP Class 15 completes leader program

Fifteen youth representing the four school districts in the county completed the Ralph Joseph Youth Leadership Program, an eight-session program, with graduation on Nov. 22.

The program covers community assessment, communications, leadership ropes course, etiquette, personality assessment, decision making, project reports and cultural diversity. Participants also completed a community service project during the program.

Veronica Manning, co-chair of the program, gave the welcome and explained that the program is a result of Dr. Ralph Joseph identifying a need in the community to train youth to be good leaders and donate back to their communities.

The group recognized Dr. and Mrs. Joseph. Each year Dr. Joseph, along with others, donates funds, and a committee of volunteers conducts the program.

Other guests recognized were Shirley Murphy, Lawrence Memorial Health Foundation executive director; Junior Briner, Leadership Lawrence Alumni Association president; and Amanda Crum, wife of guest speaker Dr. Parker Crum.

Committee member Tim Taylor introduced Dr. Crum who is a graduate of RJYL Class 1. Dr. Crum shared with the graduates, "No matter what career path you choose, teamwork, delegation and networking play a vital role in your success."

Dr. Crum also advised students to rely on one another's skills to accomplish tasks and wander outside of their comfort zone.

Lila Floyd, committee member, recognized the Community Service Award winners Caitlyn Difani, Erika Mitchell and Katelyn Ponder, all of Sloan-Hendrix, for their bus safety program for kindergarten through fourth grade students.

The Sloan-Hendrix students and members of the Tone Club shared the Department of Transportation guidelines for bus safety with the younger students as a service project. The Tone Club will continue working on the project.

Other projects included new recreation equipment for the Walnut Ridge Middle School, provided by Beth Massey, Rob Rainwater and Kierston Cook, the organization of a "Fellowship for Christian Athletes" chapter at Black Rock School, provided by Hunter Horton, Megan Jones and Sarah Sloan, beautification of a newly paved walking trail provided by Hoxie students Katelyn Ellis, Leslee Parrish and Coy Yasler, and an Internet safety program against cyber bullying for grades 7-12, conducted by Hillcrest students Samantha Blevins, Ashley Stroud and Tyler Durham.

Lawrence County Extension Agents Bryce Baldridge and Herb Ginn compiled a presentation of the class highlights, which were reviewed by Gail Clark.

With assistance from Shirley Murphy, committee member John Thomison named Sloan-Hendrix student Erika Mitchell and Black Rock student Hunter Horton as recipients of the $1,000 Lawrence Health Foundation scholarship in honor of Dr. Joseph.

Both Mitchell and Horton will receive $500 upon graduation from high school to attend an Arkansas institute of higher education.

Co-chair Renee Tucker presented the graduates with certificates. Each member of Class 15 gave a response as to how they benefited individually by being a part of the program.

The youth leadership program is made possible through the generous support from Dr. Ralph Joseph; Lawrence Memorial Health Foundation; Wal-Mart; Paul and Helen Doty; Larry Sloan; Robert Bosh Tool Corp.; AgHeritage Farm Credit Services; Regions Bank; Ross and Sherry Rainwater; Lawrence County Chamber of Commerce; University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture - Extension Lawrence County; Lawrence County School Districts; Lawrence County Department of Human Services; and Leadership Lawrence County Alumni Association.

Besides the monetary donations, many individuals donate time and expertise to teach the classes, prepare the notebooks, and share meeting space. Thanks goes to Daina Witt, Judy Videll, Carrie Mae Snapp, David Smith, Jean Osburn, Binkley Greenhouse and the Powhatan City Council for their assistance.

To find out more about the Youth Leadership Program contact the Lawrence County Extension Office at 886-3741 or any graduate or committee member.

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