Youth Leadership Oshkosh open doors for bright futures

What happens when you bring together 24 teenagers from public and private high schools in Oshkosh, and immerse them into all aspects of a community?

Doors open to futures they never thought possible, says Kathy Birmingham, director of leadership for the Oshkosh Chamber of Commerce.

For the past 12 years, she's led Youth Leadership Oshkosh, a program that aims to give teens knowledge and networking opportunities to be even better leaders at their school and in the community.

Pictured left to right are 2014-15 Youth Leadership Oshkosh participants: Armanni Lardydell, Lydia Gauthier, Ryan Brown, Rachelle Braun, Nate Kiraly, Austin Trochinski, Natalie Haag, and Lilian Pech. Seated in foreground: Luke Zangl.

"It's our hope that after high school, or whatever they do after high school, that they'll think about coming back or staying in Oshkosh or being a community leader as an adult," she says.

Through monthly, day-long sessions during the school year, students are immersed into various sectors of the community, including health and human services, public safety, government, business and more.

In 2015, the program received support from the Foundation's Kimberly Fund for Youth, a field of interest fund created by the estate of Henry H. Kimberly Jr., who was a business man and civic volunteer in Oshkosh.


"NOW I KNOW I SHOULD BE OUT THERE AND DOING THINGS, BECAUSE EVEN THE LITTLEST THINGS MAKE THE BIGGEST DIFFERENCE." - Armanni Lardydell, Oshkosh North High School student



The experience was life-changing for Armanni Lardydell, then a junior at Oshkosh North High School, who participated during the 2014-15 school year.

"I learned that I'm more of a leader than I thought I was. I guess I just didn't realize the impact I can make," he says.

Lardydell helped organize Youth Leadership's final project. On Earth Day, participants planted a tree at Gabriel's Villa, a residential facility of Lutheran Homes of Oshkosh, and created memory stones with residents which were placed at the base of the tree.

"It was a bonding experience for us and the residents, and it showed us that the stereotypes are untrue," says Lardydell. "I think we really felt that we did something, that we were here and we made a difference in these residents' lives."

Support program like Youth Leadership Oshkosh with the gift to the
Henry H. and Patricia W. Kimberly Fund for Youth

 

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