Students learn important skills in Youth Leadership Program

Every other year, the Greater Bluefield Chamber of Commerce hosts a Youth Leadership Program for sophomores and juniors at Graham and Bluefield High Schools. The eight-session program allows for multiple opportunities for students to learn about different businesses and programs in the community while also learning leadership skills. The students involved were required to fill out an application and get two references. The committee then hand-selected students to be a part of the program. 

Abby Gasperson (11) described what the program was all about, “It’s purpose is to expose our generation to local opportunities and jobs and to teach us how to step up and be a leader in our community.” Jordan McFarland (11) also said, “It gives us an opportunity to explore some work fields we might consider going into one day.” 

The students have toured many local businesses and programs, like WVVA and the Tazewell County Jail and the courthouse. The program also took a trip to Blacksburg to tour VCOM and it’s cadaver lab. Emma Largen (10) said, “My favorite activity was touring the jail cell and seeing how the inmates lived and getting to ask the guards questions. My least favorite activity was definitely the cadaver lab because I almost passed out after seeing the body parts.” Abby Shoemaker (10) agreed, “The first session was my favorite because it was so fun to meet everyone. The VCOM session was my least favorite, probably because the cadaver lab really creeped me out and Emma almost passed out so I left with her.” 

Not only does the program present a great learning environment for the participants, but it could also aid them in their futures. “It’ll be good to put on job and college applications so they can see that you’ve had experience with different fields.” Abby Shoemaker (10) agreed, “It will be very good for college applications and it’ll help me to have good connections with people and be more prepared in situations where I might have to step into a leadership position.” 

Abby Gasperson (11) would recommend it to any upcoming eligible students. “I would definitely recommend it because it shows you opportunities around the Bluefield area that I didn’t know existed, and on the plus side it looks good on college applications.” Emma Largen (10) added, “I highly recommend students signing up since it will help you mold your classes and future into what you want to do.”