Teens needed to fill vacant Youth Advisory Council seats

Sean C. Morgan

The City Council is seeking students to fill nine seats on the Youth Advisory Council.

The council appointed eighth-grader Kascia Hausner to the YAC during its regular meeting on Sept. 13. Hausner served on the YAC last school year.

Also serving on the YAC is Phoebe Olsen, a freshman serving for the first time, said City Manager Craig Martin. That leaves nine positions open.

“We’ve had a lot of interest and have had people indicate they were planning on applying,” he said, but so far no one else has.

Last year was among the most active for the YAC, with nine members, the largest number to serve on the committee, which advises the City Council on matters related to youth and helps organize events, but graduation has helped reduce the number of returning members.

The YAC meets from 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. on the third Tuesday of each month at City Hall.

The city is seeking representatives for each grade level at the high school, at large at the high school, one at large at the junior high and three at large.

YAC members must be 12 to 19 years old.

City Councilor Scott McKee Jr. attended the freshman orientation last spring to invite youth to participate, Martin said. He is planning to go out to the schools and talk to students soon.

“I think it’s a great opportunity for youth to have a voice in city affairs, city government, issues that are important to the youth in the Sweet Home area,” Martin said. “It’s a good opportunity for learning about the public process and group decision-making.

“It’s a good opportunity to meet youth with different perspectives and ideas. It’s a good opportunity for civic involvement in the community.”

He’s been told that it’s also a good opportunity for those seeking post-secondary education scholarships and grants, Martin said.

“It’s a lot of fun. At least I’ve been told, it’s a lot of fun.”

Last year, the biggest YAC activity was organizing its third annual 5K running event, Martin said. The event was organized to help promote health and wellness as well as tourism and recreation.

Funds raised during the event are given to local charitable organizations, Martin said. Last year, the 5K provided funds to Sweet Home Emergency Ministries and the Kids Food Pak program.

Last year, YAC members also attended various city committee and council meetings, Martin said, and then they reported back to the YAC about what’s going on.

If pertinent, the City Council may refer issues to the YAC for a recommendation and input, Martin said.

The YAC has talked about doing another youth attitude survey about various issues and topics in the community, Martin said. The last one was about seven years ago when YAC members and several other youths went out and took photos of things they liked and disliked in the community.

The YAC also has talked about looking at working with the schools on helping promote awareness of intolerance and bullying, he said, and it has been looking at the possibility of doing another book drive for donations to the Friends of the Library bookstore. The last one was two years ago.

Martin expects the YAC will pick these activities up again this fall.

Last year’s YAC was also in the process of developing a logo that they can wear on shirts during events to identify themselves as members of the YAC, Martin said.