Pulaski County Youth Leadership Goes to the State Capitol
February 22, 2017
On February 16th, the Pulaski Tomorrow Youth Leadership Program made their annual trip to the State Capitol in Atlanta. This year, the group brought sixteen aspiring leaders to the Gold Dome to learn about state government, meet with elected officials, and tour the State Capitol building.
The Youth Leadership Program is facilitated by Jeff Tarver, the Executive Director of LIFE League, a Hawkinsville-based non-profit organization. The goals of the Youth Leadership Program are to acquaint participants with community needs and allow interaction with leaders and decision makers; provide opportunities for students from different schools and backgrounds to develop relationships, trust, and respect; foster interest in community and volunteer work; and identify and develop leadership skills.
Donovan Head, field representative for Congressman Austin Scott, coordinated the visit and led the students on a Capitol tour. Head has facilitated Capitol tours for the Pulaski Tomorrow Youth Leadership program for the past four years and continues to be inspired by the community’s young leaders, saying, “the class of 2017 is an impressive group of engaged students who are clearly emerging leaders in the Hawkinsville-Pulaski County community.”
The students’ day at the Capitol began with a tour of the offices of Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp and Governor Nathan Deal. While touring the Governor’s office, the students had the opportunity to take a group picture with Governor Deal, a highlight of the day. After meeting the Governor, the students spent time in the galleries of both houses of the General Assembly, receiving recognition on the floor of the Georgia Senate by Senator Larry Walker III, the Senator representing Pulaski County.
After observing the workings of the General Assembly, the group had an informative lunch- discussion with their local legislators, Senator Larry Walker III and Representative Buddy Harden, as well as Representative David Clark and Melvin Everson, Executive Director/Administrator of the Georgia Commission on Equal Opportunity. During this discussion, the group learned about the legislative process and had the opportunity to ask questions directly to their elected representatives. According to Head, “this experience educates students about how our State Government works and allows them to see our government in action. The students are given the opportunity to ask informed questions of their legislators and learn firsthand how a bill becomes a law.”
After lunch, the group embarked on a tour of the State Capitol building and closed the day with a scavenger hunt, breaking into teams and using the information learned in the tour to answer Georgia history questions. In addition to Tarver and Head, Pulaski County Sole Commissioner Butch Hall, Hawkinsville City Manager Tim Young, Life League’s JaMelle Hill, Pulaski Tomorrow alumna Ana Watford, and Archway Professional Sam Perren participated in the trip. According to Tarver, “the Pulaski Tomorrow Board of Directors felt as if this particular trip would benefit the students, as it gives them some perspective on how the modules we covered in the curriculum are applied in the real world. The students had the opportunity to see first-hand how decisions are made at the state level and they really enjoyed the experience.”
Through a collaboration with the Archway Partnership, Pulaski Tomorrow worked with the J.W. Fanning Institute for Leadership Development in 2013-2014 to develop a new leadership curriculum for area high school students. The six-month program encourages participants to develop leadership skills and become involved in civic and community affairs. To date, nearly one hundred students have participated in Pulaski Tomorrow Youth Leadership programming. Additionally, in 2016, Pulaski Tomorrow began awarding the Robert Herman Youth Leadership Scholarship to a senior graduate of the program that best exemplifies the program’s goals.
For most of its history the Pulaski Tomorrow Youth Leadership Program has been managed by the Archway Partnership. This year, in keeping with Pulaski Tomorrow’s long-term sustainability plan, which was developed in collaboration between the Archway Partnership and the J.W. Fanning Institute for Leadership Development, management of the program was contracted to LIFE League.