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Youth focused leadership program launching this winter

Leadership can be found all around us – from those who stand up for their beliefs at a national level to those who are the rock behind their friends and family. We have many amazing leaders here in Crook County who have taken a difficult role sometimes in the spotlight, as well as acted behind the scenes, and make strong impacts on our community. Nevertheless, building quality leaders for our future is imperative and the Crook County Foundation is again playing a role in that work.

Many years ago, the Crook County Foundation launched ‘Leadership Crook County’ as there was a need for more people to run for public office at the time. The program eventually became coordinated by Rural Development Initiative while being funded by the Ford Foundation. Around 5 years ago, the Ford Foundation ended its funding for this type of leadership program. For the past couple of years, current leaders have expressed a desire for this program to come back. The need is apparent as well, we frequently hear of boards needing new members, ballots often appear with only one name or none running for a position, and we see the same people hold numerous leadership roles in our community.

Our hope was that this fall would see the re-launch of ‘Leadership Crook County’, a program that typically lasts around 8 months providing insight, leadership skill building, and knowledge on how our city, county, and state operates for adults seeking to increase their awareness and potentially fill local positions. With the worldwide pandemic starting to flare up again, we have decided that it is not a good time to start this program. However, our Leadership Committee is taking this extra time to focus on more detailed planning and will have details out this winter about the fall 2022 program.

While planning our adult Leadership program, our committee frequently discussed that leadership skill building should start with our youth. We need to help our future leaders learn these valuable skills and understand how they can choose leadership roles at anytime in their lives. We reached out to the Crook County School District to see if they had any interest in working with us and they quickly welcomed our idea as a component of their Junior Advancement Via Individual Determination (AVID) class. The AVID program is designed to help underachieving students with high academic potential prepare for entrance to colleges and universities.

Our Leadership Committee is excited to launch the ‘Crook County Youth Leadership Academy’ (CCYLA) as part of our district’s programming this winter. The format of this program is quite different than our adult version, with a limitation on guest speakers, and we will be following all COVID guidelines. The courses will be led by our committee members, focusing more on having the students work through real-life scenarios which will build quality leadership and decision-making skills.

CCLYA will help students learn topic such as how to work with others, finding their passion and why, conflict resolution, public speaking, methods of communication, how to build support with groups, and how learn to listen and work with everyone you represent. We will also spend time reviewing how organizations work, what role various departments of the city and county have, and we will help them do a leadership related class project. We are excited to work with our high school and junior students to launch this program, seeking valuable input on ways we can improve on it and expand it to reach more students in the future.

Leadership is something that everyone experiences in their life in one way or another. The Crook County Foundation is proud to have been involved with building leadership in our community in the past and are looking forward to a variety of options to offer skill-building it in the future. If you would like to volunteer to be on any of our committees, donate to our programs, or assist in another way, please contact us by calling 541-362-1976 or reaching out via email to To learn more about our organization, events, and initiatives, visit

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